We’ve done England. We’ve done Germany. We’ve done France, Holland, Scotland, and even Azerbaijan. Now that all the money and headline-grabbing starlets are moving to Spain, we are too– in our comprehensive guide to all things La Liga.
Apologies to Sid Lowe, who wishes he could be as knowledgeable as we are. Without further ado… viva España!
Here’s the deal…these preview posts have been going on for about a month now and you are tired of them and so are we. But, we like to follow through on our previews so you will get them even if you do not read or comment. We may not get to all the La Liga previews but we sure as hell are going to try. I am also tired of doing the research for the previews, but I am actually looking forward to this one of Valencia.
Because it is unbelievable that Valencia a team saddled with a half a billion Euros of debt thanks to a bad real estate investment has not sold its most valuable assets—David Villa and David Silva. Both players are highly coveted by franchises across Europe including Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.
If you recall, Real Madrid went on a giant spending spree this summer, spending over 250 million Euros on Ronaldo, Kaka, Benzema, Albiol and Alonso. Incredible. Albiol was probably Los Che’s third most valuable asset. Barcelona wasn’t shy in the transfer market either buying Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the price of an Eto’o plus some Real Madrid couch change (rumored to be 10M Euros).
Yet, somehow not Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea or Manchester City could pry either David from Valencia’s grip. A team that has been in financial trouble for some time now. The club could not even pay its players at times last season. Creditors have taken over the team. The club may have to sell its stadium to repay its debts. Also of note, the team has been selling shares of the club to fans in the hopes of raising money to pay off the debts.
This astounding considering all the other selling clubs this summer (Manchester United, AC Milan, Liverpool) have pretty clearly just pocketed the summer transfer fees to cover debt service, but that’s for another column at a different time. It is just incomprehensible that this has come to pass. They were reportedly offered 50M Euros for Villa alone but said no. Who knows how much has been offered for Silva or how much it would take to sell the players.
Even more unbelievable is that neither player has demanded a transfer to a club that would clearly pay the players better wages. This is imminently admirable.
The team calculus must be that it is better in the long run to hold on to these players and try to qualify for European competitions like Valencia did last season finishing 6th in La Liga to qualify for the Europa Cup. It is not the Champions League but it certainly will bring more cash in and if they can qualify for Champions League this year it may just hold the creditors at bay. Champions League play is not so far fetched either as Valencia was still in the running for a spot late in the season last year. The team could conceivably do it again this year if the club can keep stable.
It is a minor miracle that the club has not been crushed by the enormity of its debt. The crushing may still happen and the club could be out of the running for a Champions League spot by January, which would lead to a sale of the Davids, but at least it will make following the team interesting.
Ok, so that was not much of a preview nor did I do much research. Raul Albiol and Fernando Morientes were the only major departures. Miguel Moya was the only signing costing a transfer fee. Not a lot of change on the bench, but that does not mean it will be a calm season with all of the financial turmoil.
Given all of this uncertainty, a Champions League place is a lofty goal, but a more likely finish is in a Europa spot or just out of that…say 6th or 7th.
In the meantime, buy a share of Valencia if the club does a second offering.