Despite coming perilously close to relegation during the last La Liga campaign, Valencia football club have dabbled very little in the summer transfer market to date. This will come as a surprise to many of their fans as the make-up of the squad was heavily invested in loan signings this past season, many of which have gone back to their origin clubs. One player they had the option to buy was Justin Kluivert, but unfortunately Valencia did not take up this opportunity, much to the disappointment to many of the “socios”, and he will instead see Premier League action next season with Bournemouth. Nico González and Ilaix Moriba have gone back to their respective clubs, Barcelona and Leipzig. Samuel Lino has returned to Atlético Madrid, despite numerous reports that he would like to stay at the Mestalla.
Goalkeeper Iago Herrerín has left the club and local boy Toni Lato is heading to the Balearic Islands, where he will possibly team up with Kang-In-Lee at Real Mallorca. Kang-In has had a good season for the Mallorcans and the rumour mill is heavy that he will start his football elsewhere in August.
Rumours also continue to suggest Yunus Musah and Giorgi Mamardashvili will leave, and Fran Pérez will have a loan period at Elche, when many would have hoped he would have been vying for a starting place in the first eleven at Valencia… more weeks than not.
That opportunity will instead be given to Diego López and Javi Guerra who have been upgraded from Valencia Mestalla to Ruben Baraja’s squad. López was outstanding at the back end of the season, and Guerra is likely to have many more chances now Lato has moved on.
The only money Valencia have forked out to date is around five million Euros to Olympique Lyon for the services of Cenk Özkacar, who performed admirably in the centre of defence for Valencia last term.
Another serious blow for Valencia was the decision of Carlos Marchena to walk away from the number two spot. Marchena assisted Baraja through the final games, and seemed destined to continue. However, he has stepped aside from the role and has decided he wants to explore new challenges.
The first pre-season friendly for Valencia is later this month, when they entertain Nottingham Forest behind closed doors at the Antonio Puchades stadium.
The team from the Midlands came to Valencia around Christmas time last year to participate in a friendly match to commemorate the centenary of the Mestalla. Forest won by two goals to one with the Valencia effort coming from Hugo Duro.
Another Midlands club, Aston Villa, will be this year’s opposition in the Trofeo Naranja. Unai Emery is building a team to watch and compete at the very top level, and many fans still rue the fact that he is not still involved with Los Che at a coaching level.
In between the matches with their two English counterparts, Valencia will play in Slovakia against FC Spartak Trnava and in Kybun Park against the Swiss outfit FC St. Gallen.
Another friendly has also been organised in July with Deportivo Alavés at the Antonio Puchades stadium. The Basque side will be returning to Valencia with La Liga status after a last gasp victory over Levante UD in the Division Two play-off final a few weeks ago.
With both matches between Levante UD and Alaves looking like 0-0 stalemates it seemed Levante would be returning to the big time as a result of finishing one place higher than Alaves in the league season.
However, deep into injury time of the second leg at the Ciutat de València, the visitors got a controversial penalty courtesy of a VAR decision.
Asier Villalibre, on loan from Athletic Club de Bilbao coolly slotted the spot kick home to break the hearts of all Granotas inside and outside of the stadium and sent Alaves soaring into La Liga.
Condemned to another season in the second tier of Spanish football brings with it the inevitable financial consequences on and off the field.
Jorge de Frutos will be in high demand, and the ten million Euros the club rejected for him last year will be difficult to not take this time around.
Roberto Soldado, Robert Pier, Jose Campana, Shkodran Mustafi and Sergio Postigo have all been released and the Brazillian international Wesley has returned to Aston Villa. Joni Montiel and Vincent Iborra have also returned to Rayo Vallecano and Villarreal CF, respectively, after their loan spells finished at the end of June.
Returning to Levante after completing their loan spells are Dani Gómez, Enric Franquesa, Giorgi Kochorashvili, Toni Herrero, Álex Blesa and the Brazillian Fabrício.
Three free transfers will be joining the Levante clan for the next campaign. Attacking midfielder Óscar Clemente joins from UD Las Palmas, whilst Adrián de la Fuente arrives from Villarreal B and Oriol Rey, a central midfielder has signed from CD Mirendes.
A third club from central England, Stoke City, will come to the region this month, and play a friendly against Levante at La Nucia on July 16th. On top of this, Nottingham Forest will also play Levante UD in Buñol a few days after the Valencia game at Puchades.
The league fixtures will give both clubs tough starts. Valencia start at the hostile Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pijuán against Sevilla and then have two home games against UD Las Palmas and Osasuna.
The club from Pamplona have recently been told by UEFA that they are banned from the Europa Conference as a result of match fixing allegations that took place ten years ago. Osasuna plan to appeal, but if it remains unsuccessful Athletic Bilbao would be the club to benefit.
Levante UD meanwhile have matches against Amorebieta away, Burgos at home, a trip to Cartagena in Murcia and then a visit from Oviedo to start their season.
Following the draw for the preliminary stages of the Champions League, Levante women will play the Icelandic team Stjarnan. If they overcome the club from Garðabær they will then play the winners of the FC Twente and Sturm Graz contest, to advance to the next stage.
Regarding Valencia CF and Levante UD, enquiries and applications for season tickets can be made to the respective box offices of both clubs at this moment in time.
Report by John Howden
Article copyright ‘24/7 Valencia’
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