Valencia have had a summer full of turmoil and unrest, a situation hardly ideal for a club with big ambitions. There have been big exits, massive protests against the club’s management and still no signings. Finishing outside European places seems to have cost them financially, although to what scale is still to be known.
Summer Transfer Business
Valencia lost 5 starters before opening day and have replaced them with no one so far. The exits included Captain Parejo, Francis Coquelin, Ezequiel Garay, Ferran Torres and Rodrigo Moreno all of whom have been integral players for them. The fans have been less than amused, predictably, especially since no new signings have been made. The players who have exited have been replaced with B team players and/or youngsters and more exits are still expected before the end of the transfer window. They have been linked with a host of names but there are claims that the effects of Covid-19 on finances means they can only sign players on loan or for free, none of which have happened.
After the firing of Albert Celades towards the end of last season, Valencia moved quickly to announce former Malaga and Osasuna manager, Javi Gracia, ahead of the new season. In Gracia, they have a very experienced, tactically astute manager again. This is in complete contrast to what Celades, who replaced Marcelino, was. At least, this gives Valencia fans hope that the season will not be the disaster many are predicting it to be although they are wary that there is only so much a manager can do without help. Gracia has worked magic at his previous jobs and could well do it again by steering Valencia to the higher parts of the table despite the serious limitations he is dealing with.
The key player this season could be Korean youngster, Lee Kang-In. The reigning U20 World Cup MVP will be one of the beneficiaries of the exits and this could be one light at the end of the tunnel for the club. He has been reluctant to sign a new deal because of lack oof first team opportunities but it now looks like the club is set to fully bet on him this season. His immense talent means he could have a breakout year. More importantly, he could be very key for Valencia as he fills in the void left by both Rodrigo Moreno and Dani Parejo in parts. If he is able to handle the responsibility properly, Valencia would greatly benefit and that could be the difference between a forgettable season and a memorable one.
One for the Future
There is a lot of excitement in Valencia about 17-year old Yunus Musah, who was signed from Arsenal in 2019. The versatile youngster looks to have a big future ahead of him and many at the club have been very excited by his preseason performances. Gracia also seems very keen to give the kid a lot of playing time. With the lack of signings so far, it looks like Yunus could get a lot of opportunities to play this season. If no one is signed in his position, he could well get a lot of starts as well. It is looking like he could have a big season and a great career at the club.
It is really difficult to predict what Valencia’s season will look like because there are a lot of unknowns, a lot of variables in play. One doesn’t quite know what to expect from youngsters with little experience, especially the ones who would be given a lot of responsibility to fill holes left in the squad. Many have gone as far as predicting a relegation battle for Valencia. Even though it is not particularly new – they have had two recent lower table scraps – that could be a serious exaggeration. It is unlikely that they would go that low with Gracia in charge, although even he might walk if the conditions become impossible to keep dealing with. If he finishes the season though, expect Valencia to reach at least a safe midtable position, probably 9th again or 10th.