Valencia CF have shown positive signs and ticked all the right boxes so far in the four pre-season games they have played during the summer. Youth and players from inside the club have been given playing time and the chance to step up a level, and all have done well, with varying degrees of success. Valencia’s inert activity in the transfer market and Ruben Baraja’s belief in the club’s academy has led to these opportunities, especially with the exodus of first team players since the last league game in June against Real Betis in Sevilla.
Gone are the forward line of Justin Kluivert (Bournemouth) Edison Cavani (Boca Juniors) and Samuel Lino (returning to Atlético Madrid). Also moving on is Toni Lato (who has joined Mallorca).
Nico González and Ilaix Moriba have returned to their respective clubs after loan spells were completed, and Leganés took up the option to buy Jorge Sáenz after an impressive campaign last season with the Madrid based club.
It also looks like Yunus Musah is heading to AC Milan with an agreed fee of around 20 million Euros already in place. Valencia signed a five-year contract extension with the American in 2021 but things have not worked out, and his sending off in the game at Betis in June seems likely to be his last piece of action for Los Che.
Joining Valencia is Denia born Pepelu, who moved from cross city rivals Levante UD for a fee of around 5 million Euros. A similar financial figure was paid to secure the services of Cenk Özkacar from Lyon. The Turkish international impressed last season, at the heart of the team’s defence, and is a welcome permanent addition to the squad.
Valencia started off their pre-season campaign with a 1-0 victory over Nottingham Forest in a friendly behind closed doors at the Antonio Puchades stadium in Paterna. The hosts used 24 different players during the course of the game and ran out winners by a solitary goal thanks to a Javi Guerra strike, early in the second half.
Next Valencia travelled to Slovakia, and the Anton Malatinsky stadium to play FC Spartak Trnava. Valencia came away with another 1-0 scoreline in what was a game of two penalties.
Cristian Rivero saved the spot kick given to Trnava whilst Albert Mari was more clinical and converted a similar opportunity when Los Che were given a penalty by the referee.
St Gallen was the next stop and arguably Valencia’s best performance to date so far. They ended the game 3-1 winners against the Swiss club who will take part in the Europa League this year.
St Gallen took an early lead, but a goal from Dimitri Foulquier and a brace from Alberto Mari ensured Valencia earned a convincing victory.
Mari has been sensational since breaking into the first team and making his debut at Elche in April and, consequently, he has been rewarded with a superior contract that ties him to the Mestalla until 2026, with a buy-out clause set at 100 million euros.
Valencia returned to the Antonio Puchades stadium for their fourth friendly and a match up with newly promoted Alaves,
Another victory was recorded, with goals from Cenk and Martin Tejón. The latter is another youngster who has been blooded by the new regime. Having been at the Valencia academy since he was six years old, the teenager from Vilamarxant is another from the Mestalla production line that looks earmarked for a stellar career in football.
Baraja’s faith in the “fledglings” has been vindicated so far but will it transfer with the same success to La Liga. Their biggest test to date will come on August 5th when some of them will get the chance to line up against Aston Villa in the 55th ‘Trofeo Naranja.’
The annual event also acts as a presentation of the players to the fans. Previous opponents include Santos (with Pele) and Bayern Munich (with Beckenbauer).
Villa will bring their star-studded squad to the Mestalla and Unai Emery is likely to give out a run-out at some stage to one of their newcomers, Pau Torres, who signed from Villarreal recently.
The league computer has given Valencia a tough opening day fixture. They will travel to Andalusia for a contest with Sevilla.
The Southern based club have also been quiet in the transfer market, having shelved out only 12 million Euros for the former Rennes defender Loïc Badé. Coming away from the Sánchez Pijuan stadium with any points at all would be a positive, in every sense of the word, for Valencia and would really kickstart things too.
The following two matches at home to Las Palmas and Osasuna are the kind of games the team will need to win if they are to vie for a European place next season. Within a month of the new league campaign, the supporters should have an idea of what kind of football to expect.
Meanwhile, Levante UD will have to re-group and go again after missing out on La Liga status so cruelly last season. Pepelu is now in Valencia colours and Son, Soldado, Campana and Róber Pier are amongst numerous former first teamers that are no longer at the club.
Los Granotas also have a tough start to the season, commencing with SD Amorebieta. They also travel to Cartagena at the end of the month. Sandwiched in between is a home match with Burgos. Prior to the league campaign, they play a friendly against Leganés.
Report by John Howden
Article copyright ’24/7 Valencia’
Tickets can be bought from the box offices of both clubs.
Valencia CF vs Aston Villa Trofeo Naranja August 5, 21.00 hours
Sevilla vs Valencia CF August 11, 21.30 hours
Valencia CF vs U D Palmas August 18, 21.30 hours
Valencia CF vs Osasuna August 25, 19.30 hours
Leganés vs Levante UD – August 5, 20.00 hours (Friendly)
Amorebieta vs Levante UD – August 11, 19.00 hours
Levante UD vs Burgos – August 19, 19.30 hours
Cartagena vs Levante UD – August 25, 21.30 hours