Nicolas Otamendi’s sale to Premier League giants Manchester City was confirmed this week, with a reported £31.7million fee agreed between Valencia and their English counterparts. The transfer arguably typifies the policy the club have adopted since the turn of the decade, buying them young before selling for a telling profit.
Otamendi was brought to the Mestalla Stadium just last summer from FC Porto and the centre-back has already established himself as one of Europe’s finest young talents. Even during the January transfer window, just months after switching Portugal for neighbours Spain, a plethora of the world’s biggest clubs were rumoured to be after his signature.
One of the most intriguing signings of the summer is set to earn Valencia an estimated profit of £18.7m despite only purchasing the Argentine just 12 months prior. This being just one of a long line of youngsters departing Spain’s third largest city for big money, with the club earning €225.8m on transfer fees alone since 2010.
This model has seen success throughout the world in recent times, proving to be a sustainable method for even some of the most recognisable brands. After the construction of the Emirates, Arsenal begrudgingly adopted a principle whereby they sold their biggest stars after singing them for little money under Arséne Wenger. One of the Frenchman’s former sides, AS Monaco, despite their wealth, have recently followed suit with Layvin Kurzawa expected to be the latest to leave the Principality.
While some suffer on the pitch for the sake of improvements in the boardroom, Valencia have improved continuously and are now on the verge of qualifying for the Champions League group stages for the first time since 2012. A win over the aforementioned Monaco, courtesy of strikes from Rodrigo, Dani Parejo and Sofiane Feghouli, puts Els Taronges in a strong position to increase their stature and revenue even further.
Selling style response to poor management
A host of domestic and European honours were collected during towards the end of last century and the opening few years of this, but success came at a cost. A debt of €200m was accumulated under the presidential reign of Manuel Llorente and forced the sale of Gaizka Mendieta to Lazio, for just under €50m.
Things were exacerbated further as the economy in the country crashed, hitting the city of Valencia harder than most, and the overly ambitious plans of a Nou Mestilla were abandoned whilst €133m net transfer debt was racked up under Francisco Camps.
Llorente returned to a €550m debt and it was he who implemented this selling style, letting go some top names whilst negotiating the rising wages at the club. The Eastern outfit sold the likes of David Silva, Juan Mata and Roberto Soldado to English sides while Barcelona have captured David Villa, Gerard Lopez and Jeremy Mathieu amongst others. These players alone have earned the club €160.7m and although fans may have been unhappy at the time, with these six capturing 15 major honours since their departures, they are now seeing rewards coming in every aspect.
A selling club well before 2015, those associated with Valencia are comforted by the fact that the team’s finances are in a stronger condition under the ownership of the renowned Peter Lim. The Singaporean billionaire bought over 70% of shares last summer and has seemingly ridded this historical side of the debt once surrounding them for a number of years, despite his tenure lasting just over a year so far.
Current mix recipe for success
Under the management of Nuno, a young coach building his reputation with his first big club, Valencia have built a successful side. Arriving from Portugal in 2014 with a one-year contract offered, the former goalkeeper penned a three-year extension following a fourth placed finish in La Liga. His team lost just once to Barcelona, Atlético Madrid and neighbours Real last season and even ended the latter’s sublime 22 match unbeaten run.
With sincere pedigree within their ranks, the appeal of working with such young talent clearly appeases the ex-Porto man and the financial shackles seem to be lifted. Alvaro Negredo was brought in for £27m following a successful loan spell from Manchester City with 24-year-old forward Rodrigo arriving from Benfica for a club record fee assumingly due to the influence of agent Jorge Mendes.
Benfica team-mates Enzo Perez, Joao Cancelo and Andre Gray have also joined Rodrigo in his trip across the border, with the latter being organised by ‘super agent’ Mendes. Advising Lim when it comes to transfers, these signings, alongside the capture of 19-year-old Santi Mina, will likely move on when their value hit it’s peak. A method such as this will not see them challenge Real Madrid and Barcelona for now, but stability will be achieved after just under a decade of uncertainty.
Following a decent pre-season, losing just three times in the eight games they played on tour, Valencia seem to be in line for yet another strong season in Spain despite the departure of Otamendi. With a convincing 3-1 win under their belt ahead of their La Liga opener with Rayo Vallecano, a top four finish is certainly a possibility once more but a stronger financial position is now a certainty.