FEATURE | Why Carlos Soler is key to Valencia’s survival

Carlos Soler produced the goods for Valencia in a freezing cold Valladolid at the weekend. The midfielder’s second half goal broke an eight-game winless streak for Los Che in LaLiga.

Soler has been playing for the Primera club since he was 7 years old. Now 24, he is already in the top 100 players with the most games played for the club with 166 appearances. Soler’s 76th minute strike versus Valladolid from 25 yards was his sixth goal in the league this season. With the departure of Dani Parejo to rivals Villarreal, he has become a central part of the team, providing four assists on top of his goals, including a hat-trick of penalties against Real Madrid at Mestalla.

Javi Gracia’s team have won 42% of their total points in LaLiga for the 2020/21 campaign thanks to Soler’s goals – eight from their 19. Having played 18 games so far this season, they average barely over a point per game, not something seasoned Valencia fans are accustomed to.

Gracia’s side have spent the majority of the season hovering over the relegation zone. A mass exodus last summer and a lack of investment in a depleted squad has left the former Watford boss scratching his head.

“Soler continues to take advantage of his shooting ability,” Gracia said of Soler. The local boy is seventh in LaLiga for the best average of goals per game (0.43). With his six goals, he is currently the highest-scoring midfielder in LaLiga. For ball recoveries, Soler is third for Valencia with 79, and together with José Luis Gayà, has provided the most assists for the club (4).

Under Marcelino, Soler was used in a wide role due to the presence of Dani Parejo, Francis Coquelin and Geoffrey Kondogbia, but has since been deployed in the centre of midfield. His idol is Valencia legend Rubén Baraja, somebody he worked alongside in the academy at Valencia.

“He is the complete midfielder and can act as a 6, 8 or 10; he has power, arrives in the box and can score,” says Curro Torres, who coached him in the club’s youth team. “I know him and I know that he can still bring his game to the next level. He has taken on responsibility in the team too,” Torres told AS.

Reports coming out of Valencia in recent days suggest that club owner Peter Lim and president Anil Murthy have “maximum confidence” in Gracia maintaining the club’s Primera status, while the captains of the club have also reportedly backed the head coach.

Soler has been Valencia’s best player in 2020/21 and will be key to keeping the club in LaLiga for another season. With 17 years under his belt in the famous white shirt, perhaps this year is his most important yet.

More European Football News