Manuel Queimadelos Alonso
Valencia's financial woes mean plenty of top talent could soon be available for cheap. Just the way Levy likes it.
The local government of Valencia has assumed control over La Liga football club Valencia CF after the club defaulted on interest payments on a £68m loan.
Without getting into a whole thing about the complete mess Spain's public finances are in, this is precarious position for the club. The regional government is looking to offload the team as soon as possible, and as one of the biggest clubs in the country, Valencia should eventually be able to find a suitor. But given the club's debts and the terrible state of the Spanish economy, who knows where that suitor is going to come from.
In the meantime, the local government has to meet a €4.9m deliquent interest payment, in addition to regular payments servicing the loan. The government also part-owns two other lower division sides, and is on the hook for €110m in total football loans.
Blah blah blah. Who cares. What does this mean for Tottenham Hotspur? Well, it means one of the most talented squads in world football is now owned by people who know nothing about running a football club, but know they have a balance sheet to fix. And that probably means player sales. Player sales way below their normal market value. Which is exactly the kind of players Levy likes to buy.
So who should we look at?
Valencia's crown jewel is Spanish striker, vice-captain, and club talisman Roberto Soldado. If anyone would look good in a Spurs kit, it's this guy. Bobby Soldier was dominant in his early days playing for Real Madrid's B side, but never made the grade with their first team. Since then, the 27 year old has lit up La Liga with his goalscoring, averaging a better than 1 in 2 strike rate in his time at Getafe and now Valencia.
He's a clinical finisher with excellent mobility and surprisingly good hold up play for a guy only 5'10. And he's accustomed to playing as a lone striker. He doesn't create a lot in terms of assists, but he can hold the ball and bring others into play before moving into goalscoring positions. He's weak in the air, but still an improvement over Jermain Defoe.
Soldado is under contract til 2017, and is probably the last guy they'd want to sell if they didn't have to. But he's also probably their most valuable asset and if they're just looking at their bottom line, he could be one of the first to make way
With Sandro out for the season, Spurs could also turn to one of Valencia's cadre of Argentine central midfielders Fernando Gago, Ever Banega, or Tino Costa for some help in the center of the park. Gago and Banega both came through the ranks at Boca Juniors before making their way to Spain.
Gago made a name for himself at Real Madrid before finding himself forced out by the signing of Sami Khedira. He's a strong defensive midfielder with great workrate. He's composed on the ball and good at picking his head up and keeping the ball moving quickly. He can get forward, but don't count on him for his offensive skills, because they're not really worth mentioning.
Banega is a much flashier player, though he still has a strong defensive side to his game and doesn't shy away from getting stuck in. Banega loves to take people on in the middle of the park with his dribbling and has good passing range and vision. He also has a bit of a weakness for the Hollywood pass and he's not going to give us any more goals from midfield than we already get from Dembele. Also, he's a bit of a nut. But when he's on form, he can absolutely run a game.
Tino Costa represents a nice middle ground between the two. A stronger defensive presence than Banega, but much more creative in his passing than Gago. He's got great technical ability and can take a nice set piece. Think of him as an Argentine Mikel Arteta. He's probably a better all around player than Banega and Gago, but at 28 he's getting past his sell-by date for Levy to take a chance on him.
With Benny getting older and spending time in the treatment room, and Fryers not ready to come into the first team, left back Aly Cissokho could be worth taking a chance on. He was an absolute beast for Porto and Lyon, but his career has gone off the tracks a bit in his time at Valencia. It may only take a new environment for him to get his head right, and if he does he could be a valuable addition to the squad.
On the other flank, Valencia have Portugal international Joao Pereira. With many Spurs fans less than thrilled with Kyle Walker this season, Pereira could bring some much needed composure to the right back position. He's much more Vedran Corluka than Dani Alves, but could be a huge help against teams who look to exploit us down the flanks.
Further forward, Spanish starlet Sergio Canales is a promising attacking talent. He burst onto the scene with some dazzling displays at Racing Santander a few years ago before being snapped up by the Galactico machine of Real Madrid. But he was never given much of a chance at the capital club, and a successful loan spell at Valencia last spring saw the 21 year-old make the move permanent this summer for only €2m (though Real retains a buyback option). The attacking midfielder/winger could add some much-needed creativity to our attack.
Another attacking option is Brazilian Jonas, who can operate wide, in the hole, or as a striker. He's a decent goal threat, but his main strength is creative passing in and around the box. He's already 28, but he's another guy who could really help out against those parked buses.
Sofiane Feghouli, currently with Algeria at the African Nations Cup, is another creative midfielder on Valencia's books who could help out in a pinch. He's an attacking midfielder, but Valencia usually deploy him wide. Like Jonas, he's much more adept creating goals than scoring them, but he still manages about a 1 in 4 strike rate. His performances last year saw the 23 year-old take the Algerian Ballon d'Or (for whatever that's worth) and could be another cure to Spurs packed-box-itis.
All told, we still don't know if Valencia are going to have to sell anybody, but if they do, there's certainly a few gems to be found. Any of these guys look worth snapping up to you? Anyone I didn't mention that you'd rather get?