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Valencia: Season 2009-10 Preview

After two disastrous seasons, the first of which saw Los Che struggle to avoid relegation under Ronald Koeman and the second of which saw a collapsing global economy bury the club beneath a mountain of debt so large that for a while they could not pay their players, Valencia now look forward to a new season of fresh beginnings.

Having taken over the club in early summer, new president Manuel Llorente has promised to restore Valencia to their former glory, emphasising that the past two years have greatly damaged the image of Spain’s third most popular club. Already, the club look as if they are back on the fast track to success. Having retained their two superstars, David Villa and David Silva, Valencia have developed a squad that can contend for all three titles for which they are eligible: La Liga, the Copa del Rey, and the Europa League.

Summer Market

A fair number of changes have been made to the Valencia squad from last year’s roster. The most notable departure, of course, is defender and Spanish international Raul Albiol who left to become part of Real Madrid’s new Galactico era. Other notable departures include Curro Torres, Emiliano Moretti, Fernando Morientes, and Edu.

Of course, Valencia have also been hard at work adding to their squad as well, creating a team that will look to compete with the best of La Liga. After failing to sign him last season, Valencia were finally able to prise goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya away from Mallorca to compete with Cesar Sanchez.

The rest of the defence has seen extensive changes as well, as an entire back line was signed in Bruno Saltor, Angel Dealbert, Jeremy Mathieu and David Navarro. Ever Banega was also recalled from his loan deal with Atletico, although the Argentine could yet make an exit from the club this summer. Midfielder Jordi Alba also shores up the Valencia midfield. Finally, after scoring 13 goals in 19 appearances on loan at Racing, Nikola Zigic is back with Los Che and should make for a suitable back-up to David Villa.



Moya the merrier for joining Los Che

Squad

Despite being in a great deal of financial trouble, Valencia did not sell off all of their star players as was anticipated at the beginning of the summer. Of the Spanish internationals in the squad, only Raul Albiol left out the back door while Juan Mata, Pablo Hernandez, David Silva, and David Villa remain in the squad.

It is this group of attackers that will make Valencia so thrilling to watch this season as all four are mercurial attackers who are very accustomed to playing with one another. David Silva was absent for a large part of last season with injury—he will be looking to recover the form he lost while convalescing.

Last season, Real Madrid youth product Juan Mata was a very pleasant surprise with his performances on the left wing earning him a call up to the Spanish national side. Similarly, Valencia youth product Pablo ‘Pablito’ Hernandez is looked very dangerous down the right flank, his goal against Barcelona in La Mestalla convincing La Roja coach Vicente Del Bosque to call up the young Spaniard for the summer’s Confederation’s Cup.

David Silva and David Villa are the key returners though as both of players were heavily linked to summer exits—especially with Valencia not being eligible for Champions League play.


Silva lining for Valencia as David returns

Star Man

David Villa was first linked to Real Madrid then to Barcelona, but plenty of other clubs (Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, among others) were keen on securing the Spanish sharpshooter’s goalscoring abilities. In the end, Valencia realised that their star striker was far too valuable to the club to sell off and so, despite not having the chance to compete in the Champions League, ‘El Guaje’ has stayed in Valencia and will be sure to rack up many more goals in the process this season.


Villa: Star striker stays

One To Watch

Where Juan Mata was the breakout star last season, providing superb service on the left flank and fitting into a Spanish national jersey to boot, it looks as if Pablo Hernandez is the player set to steal the spotlight this season. Something of a hybrid between David Villa and Lionel Messi (if one can imagine such a combination), young Pablito dribbles with the ball very close to his boots, while still retaining a key eye for goal. This young man has a very bright future ahead of him.



Pablo Hernandez: The future's bright

Coach

After making the best of a dreadfully sour situation (first inheriting a squad that had been simply awful under Ronald Koeman and then having to keep his players focused in the midst of a financial crisis), Unai Emery was still able to motivate his team to secure sixth place in La Liga and a berth in the Europa League.

This season, the Basque coach will be able to provide some continuity and stability for a team that desperately needs it. With one of the most talented rosters in Spain outside of Barca and Real Madrid—one that contains four Spanish internationals—Unai Emery should keep Valencia very much in the thick of things in all three competitions: La Liga, the Copa del Rey, and the Europa League.


Emery: Pointing the way forward

Objective

Valencia view themselves as one of the biggest and best clubs in Spain and their fans will expect results that echo this sentiment. A top three or four finish in La Liga is not out of the question and a return to Champions League football is very much desired. After winning the Copa del Rey a year ago, Valencia will be keen to take that competition this year as well. Finally, while not currently competing in the Champions League, the Europa League championship remains strong incentive for a squad that has something to prove this season.

Cyrus C. Malek Goal.com