By Matheus Harb
Diego Alves has admitted that Valencia's new boss, Mauricio Pellegrino, has a tough act to follow in Unai Emery, but the goalkeeper is hoping that the incoming coach can be Los Che's answer to Barcelona's Pep Guardiola.
The club confirmed on Monday that former defensive lynchpin Pellegrino would be returning to Mestalla on a two-year contract.
Emery, who is now set to take charge of Spartak Moscow, has endured his fair share of criticism in recent months but Diego Alves has nothing but respect for a man he had previously worked with at Almeria.
Consequently, the Brazilian is hoping that Valencia's "gamble" on Pellegrino, who served under Rafa Benitez at both Liverpool and Inter, pays off in a manner similar to Barca's decision to appoint Guardiola as boss in 2008, despite his lack of experience at the top level.
"Emery is someone that I knew beforehand as he was the coach in my first year of Almeria, when we finished eighth," the former Atletico Mineiro No.1 explained to Goal.com.
"He is a coach who has acquired a lot of experience in Valencia, suffered a lot of pressure, and achieved something that many do not, which is qualifying for the Champions League for three consecutive years.
"For a coach of Valencia, who must face the two superpowers that are Real Madrid and Barcelona, I think he has reached his targets.
"As for Pellegrino, I think he is a symbol of the club. I do not know him personally and I have no idea of the work he can do, so it is a gamble.
"But it could pay off in the way that Guardiola did for Barcelona. Let's hope it works out.
"He already knows club better than me, so he knows what needs to be done in order for the club to achieve their goals."
However, Diego Alves is not holding out much hope of Pellegrino managing to break Real Madrid and Barcelona's hold on La Liga.
"It is difficult today," he mused. "We know that the pulling power of Real Madrid and Barcelona is very different from that of Valencia because of the television rights quotas.
"They are two global powers, even though neither reached the final of Champions League.
"That Valencia can finish third behind them is important. The overall aim of the club is getting to the point of being able to fight with them, but it is complicated by the strength of the two, both in the financial sense and in terms of the players at their disposal."
Diego Alves, who has been capped twice by the Selecao, spent four years at Almeria before moving to Mestalla last summer.