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The Perilous State of Valencia CF


The Perilous State of Valencia CF

With six Spanish league titles, eight Copa del Reys, a UEFA Cup, and two simultaneous Champions League final appearances, Valencia CF are one of the giants in Spanish football. However, in recent years the east coast outfit have looked a shadow of those heights, with off-field controversy and protesting from fans culminating in a disaster on the pitch, putting Los Che in a world of trouble and clinging on to their La Liga status.

Valencia are team rich in history, dating back to Spanish league and Copa del Rey triumphs in the 1940s. The club had success throughout the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, with numerous league and cup trophies throughout the decades. Two Champions League final appearances came in 2000 and 2001, with Valencia losing out to Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, respectively.

The club have had plenty of heroes, from the likes of Edmundo Suarez and Waldo Machado in the early days, to Gaizka Mendieta and David Villa in more modern times. Valencia has also seen plenty of top stars make a name for themselves, with players like David Silva and Juan Mata emerging as top talents at the Mestalla, with academy products such as Jordi Alba, Carlos Soler, and Ferran Torres recently coming through the Valencia ranks. Former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez announced himself in the coaching world, becoming Valencia’s most successful manager when he guided the Bats to two league titles and a UEFA Cup during his tenure from 2001 to 2004.

Decline of Valencia

Peter Lim & Financial Troubles

Valencia were struggling with debt issues, with the construction of a Nou Mestalla in 2007 (which has still yet to be completed) playing a part in that. It meant the sale of key players, such as captain Juan Mata, David Villa, David Silva, and many more all leaving in big-money deals that helped to bring in cash for the club.

Peter Lim, ranked 1,292 in the Forbes Rich List, acquired the club in 2014 and was initially well-received by fans who imagined the Singaporean businessman would help relieve the club of their debt issues. Lim promised that the Bats wouldn’t have to sell their best players (a key promise) in order to function as a club. Lim unexpectedly sacked the head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi and replaced him with Nuno Espirito Santo which showed straight away his close links with Nuno’s agent, the Portuguese super-agent, Jorge Mendes. Nevertheless, it initially looked like a shrewd move, with Espirito Santo leading the club back into Champions League qualification with a fourth-place finish which equalled their record points total in La Liga.

The following season cracks began to show, with popular Executive President Amadeo Salvo leaving the club due to personal reasons. Lim spent big in the window, bringing in €140million worth of talent, but recuperated €50million of that when selling one of their best players, Nicolas Otamendi, to Manchester City. Nuno Espirito Santo resigned after a poor start to the campaign, with Gary Neville coming in to take charge after Salvador ‘Voro’ Gonzalez’s caretaker role (a common theme of Peter Lim’s reign in charge). The club recorded back-to-back 12th place finishes, with the manager’s office being a revolving door throughout. Pako Ayestaran and former Italy boss Cesare Prandelli had stints in charge, with two more Voro caretaker appointments coming in-between those.

Marcelino and Mateu Alemany were named as Manager and Sporting Director in the 2016/17 season, a move which worked well as the former Sevilla boss securing Champions League qualification and winning a Copa del Rey. Despite the success on the pitch, there were even more cracks off the pitch, including President Layhoon Chan announcing that captain and star striker Paco Alcacer was not for sale in 2016. To the annoyance and bemusement of Valencia fans, Alcacer was unveiled as a Barcelona player not long after.

Despite leading the club to success, Marcelino and Alemany were both sacked in 2019, because of a dispute over signing players to compete with teams higher in the league, with Marcelino speaking out about Lim’s insistence on selling key players like Rodrigo. It once again showed the stranglehold Lim’s regime run over the Mestalla club. Since his arrival, Lim has overseen ELEVEN different managers, with EIGHT Voro Gonzalez interim appointments over the years. Top-level managers like Gennaro Gattuso and Javi Gracia have held short spells in charge but have not been able to last more than one season in charge, citing power struggles and broken transfer promises as reasons for their failure to improve Los Che.

The Valencia faithful have had enough of Lim and his board, with former President Anil Murthy even telling fans to shut up in response to protests at the Mestalla. Lim has continued to cash in on the Valencia’s important players and shows no interest in returning the club towards the top end of the table. Talented and important players like Soler, Torres, Rodrigo and Goncalo Guedes have all left the club for less than their market value, with next-to-no investment in the squad in recent years. Former captain and beloved midfielder Dani Parejo had plans to retire at Valencia, but he was forced out by Lim for a cut-price and sold to Villareal.

The Spanish giants have become nothing more than a side-hustle for the stockbroker, with Lim and his companies now falling into more debt which in turn has seen the cloud of debt loom over back Valencia, despite the initial feeling that Lim was the man to free the club from the risk of money troubles. Lim’s other company has lost over €1.7billion over his six-year reign in charge, whilst the club itself has accumulated over €300million in losses since his arrival. The Singaporean has rarely visited Valencia since 2019, showing no interest as the side slips further and further down the table as the quality of the team depletes.

Header logoPrimera División

Team logoGetafe
Team logoValencia
Team logoAlmería
Last updated 27/02/2024

As it stands

This 2022/23 campaign has been even more of a disaster for Valencia, with the club teetering on the edge of a catastrophic relegation. As of mid-April, Valencia are three points from safety after just 27 points from 29 league games. If they were to go down, it would end their 37-year run in the top tier of Spanish football.

Their current crop has some familiar faces, with the captain being academy graduate Jose Gaya. Veteran striker Edinson Cavani, now 36-years-old and surely past his best, arrived on a free transfer from Manchester United in the summer. Loan signings and free transfers are a common theme in the transfer windows now for Valencia, with Justin Kluivert and Sami Castillejo being examples of that.

The Bats still have some hard league games to come as the door to safety closes in on them. Former midfielder Ruben Baraja is in the hotseat, with his side still having to face Real Madrid, Villarreal, and Real Betis in the eight games that are left to save their season.