Valencia: Spain’s smartest spenders (no, honest)

This summer, LLL has been a bit ‘Carry On’ with a plethora of Sid James phwoarrs and Kenneth Williams matrons and raised eyebrows.

While not wholly unusual for the blog, this behaviour has been especially prevalent lately in reaction to Valencia’s signings. Every announcement of a player purchase by the Mestalla men has been greeted with noise of lustful approval like seeing Barbara Windsor’s boobs, which is stark contrast to the scoffing and swearing of three years ago.

A huge lump of the reason why Valencia are still in financial trouble is, rather neatly, a huge lump: the new Mestalla stadium, which has remained untouched by trowel or tractor since 2009 – when the club, under the disastrous leadership of Juan Bautista Soler, ran out of money to pay for it.

Valencia paid dearly for stadium construction and a failure to sell the land under the old Mestalla, but the club was brought to its knees by some insane spending in the transfer market between 2006 and 2008.

Whilst this summer’s current net outlay of €18.3m may seem a lot for an outfit that is still in what club president Manuel Llorente calls “a delicate situation”, Valencia did make a profit of €69m in the past two seasons thanks in part to the sales of David Silva, David Villa and Raúl Albíol. If times are still tough, Juan Mata can always be book-balancingly flogged to any number of interested suitors in the Premier League.

However, the profile of this summer’s purchases have been shrewd and astute rather than insane and insaner during the splurge that began four years ago. In that period, Valencia’s signings included a trouble-making, unproven Ever Banega for €18m, the non-scoring Javier Arizmendi (€12m), Nikola Zigic (€14m), Manuel Fernandes (€18m), Joaquín (€25m) and the quickly forgotten Italian striker Francesco Tavano (€10m). With some other rubbish thrown in (Sunny, Alexis, Del Horno, Hugo Viana) the total tally for two season’s shopping was an epic €94m.

Valencia’s new shiny brigade begins at the back with Almería’s Brazilian goalkeeper Diego Alves (€3m) adding some security, with the jury still very much out on the abilities of Vicente Guaita who ended last season as Valencia’s first choice goalie. With César Sánchez moving to Villarreal and Miguel Moyá going on loan to Getafe, this position looks solid as a rock.

The club’s first move of the new season came in, er, January when signing up the 25-year-old French international centre-back Adil Rami from Lille (to whom they immediately loaned him back while the unfashionable northerners set about winning the league title).

However, it’s further forward where the juices are really flowing after former Real Madrid midfielder Dani Parejo (€6m) joined from Getafe and the club managed to get their hands on 20-year-old Sergio Canales for a two-year loan spell in an attempt to rescue a promising career from a season spent as a José Mourinho outcast.

Almería was raided again with the purchase of a striker who is a bit of a neutral’s favourite in la Liga: Pablo Piatti, the blindingly fast wee Argentinian forward who will now get to play in a side with a bit of quality. Valencia are now especially strong up front with this attacking trio fighting for a spot with Juan Mata, Aritz Aduriz, Roberto Soldado, Pablo Hernández and the winter signing of another forward, Jonas.

New breed: Piatti (No.14) bags in pre-season at Lisbon

The Valencia squad now has a youthful, tingly feel to it, especially as the club  has get rid of useless old duffers Asier del Horno, Vicente, David Navarro, Manuel Fernandes, although somehow David Albelda and Miguel Brito have managed to survive the latest cull.

Manager Unai Emery has bubbled that “we are loving working with players with such desire. Our situation means that we’ve had to find players of this time, either from the club or outside.”

The summer spending, which may yet include another centre-back and a right-back, sees Valencia as strong favourites to repeat their third-placed position in the season to come. What’s more, the team might even be able to shorten the distance between them and second place, last season a rather chasm-like 21 points. That really would be the sign of a miraculous summer of shopping.

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