[dropcap]D[/dropcap]espite the continued domination of El Clásico superpowers Real Madrid and Barcelona over Spanish football, there are signs that other teams are ready to take the fight to the established order.
Atlético Madrid’s unexpected title triumph last season proved that the big two were not completely infallible, while Sevilla’s continued progression and prolificacy in the Europa League over a number of campaigns is a cause for hope.
However, arguably the biggest threat to Barcelona and Real Madrid’s duopoly at the head of Spanish football comes in the form of Valencia.
The Mestalla club have endured tougher times over the last decade due to financial concerns away from the action, with the club’s back-to-back Champions League final appearances and two La Liga triumphs at the turn of the century starting to become a distant memory.
Despite this, the signs are there that the glory days could well be returning to the Mestalla outfit.
With Peter Lim’s purchase of the club, fiscal concerns in the boardroom have seemingly been alleviated, which in turn has led to a resurgence on the pitch.
Nuno’s men look all-but guaranteed Champions League football next season, while a talented squad boasts some impressive players that can be added to with summer investment.
However, the most positive piece of news for the Mestalla faithful in quite some time occurred earlier this week, as promising left-back José Luis Gayà penned a new lucrative five-year deal with the club.
The 19-year-old was given a chance at the start of the campaign to feature in La Liga and has not looked back, with his fearless attacking play from full-back, tenacity in the tackle and endless work-rate endearing him to the Valencia faithful.
Such has been Gayà’s rise to prominence, the rumours that some of Europe’s biggest clubs were set to steal him away from Los Che have been palpable.
Although Arsenal in particular, along with Manchester City and Chelsea, have been linked with the defender in the British press, the biggest threat came from the Spanish capital as Real Madrid have been touted as major suitors.
The storyline is one that Valencia fans know well; a promising player comes through the Mestalla ranks only for the club to accept a golden pay-day and let the star leave and become an international-calibre star elsewhere.
Just in Gayà’s position of left-back, the Mestalla outfit have been forced to sell Spain internationals Jordi Alba and Juan Bernat in recent years when the big boys came knocking.
Due to the quality that this star duo possess and now regularly showcase for Barcelona and Bayern Munich, the combined recuperation of a collective €24 million does not seem enough for the pair, with Valencia forced to accept underwhelming offers due to dire financial status.
The fear of Gayà following suit will have been substantial amongst the Valencia fans, with the club in no position to fight off Madrid and the rest in days gone by.
However, due to a more stable position off the pitch, Gayà has been rewarded with a new lucrative deal and interest from third parties has been averted.
This deal could and should be the catalyst for the continued progression of Valencia as a club.
If and when they confirm participation in the Champions League, the next train of thought should be to keep other stars that have been gaining plaudits this term, including Nicolás Otamendi and Paco Alcácer.
From there, it appears that money will be available to bolster Nuno’s squad.
The acquisitions of Enzo Pérez, Rodrigo and Álvaro Negredo for substantial fees shows the club’s ambitions of returning to European football’s elite, with hope that more top talent will end up at the Mestalla this summer.
Considering the quality of players that Valencia have been forced to sell in recent years, including David Silva, David Villa, Juan Mata, Roberto Soldado and more, having financial stability will be welcome in the terraces.
Valencia’s return to prominence can only be good for Spanish football, with the Mestalla outfit, including the very impressive Gayà, looking ready to mix it with Europe’s best once more.
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