Goncalo Guedes: How Neymar's move to PSG has helped awaken sleeping giant Valencia
Valencia's struggles already look like a thing of the distant past and loan winger Goncalo Guedes is the personification of their revival
Neymar's record-breaking move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain sent shock waves around the world of football for a number of reasons, and it looks like it has also been one of the catalysts to Valencia returning to the top-end of La Liga.
PSG's €222 million acquisition of Neymar, as well as the loan with the view to a different big-money move of Golden Boy Kylian Mbappe meant a few players had to depart Parc des Princes as the Parisians had to scramble to comply with FFP, although there is no certainty they actually achieved that.
The pursuit of Goncalo Guedes was a long one, as Paris Saint-Germain chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi had long-promised Peter Lim that Guedes would be signing at Valencia if the Ligue 1 club decided to let him go. Neymar's protracted move meant that Guedes signed a season-long deal at Mestalla on the Spanish deadline day.
It was certainly worth the wait. "[Unai] Emery gave us a hand with Guedes," manager Marcelino said and Guedes also knew Valencia was the place for him. "[Emery] told me that it's a great club and that it would be a good move for me."
Valencia had only played twice prior to Guedes arrival and started brightly. They kicked off their campaign with a narrow 1-0 home win over Las Palmas shortly followed by an impressive 2-2 draw at reigning league and European champions, Real Madrid.
Two more draws followed, another good one (0-0 against Atletico Madrid in Valencia) before a more disappointing 1-1 at Levante, but then Guedes and Els Taronges kicked into gear.
Three-time Portugal international Guedes registered his first goal contribution, an assist, for the final goal in a 5-0 thrashing of bottom club Malaga where Simone Zaza, who himself is reigniting his career after a disappointing loan at West Ham, scored a hat-trick.
That was then followed up by two assists in a 3-2 win at Sociedad, as Valencia secured back-to-back wins.
Naturally, the ex-Benfica man was also the clear man-of-the-match in what was potentially the best game across Europe this season, as Valencia ran out 6-3 winners at Real Betis. Guedes notched his first goal for the club - a superb shot off the underside of the bar from the edge of the box and he also chipped in with his fourth assist in six games.
It was in last weekend's match however that Guedes firmly established himself as Valencia, and perhaps La Liga's MVP this season though as he scored twice and provided an assist as Valencia cast aside Sevilla 4-0.
It was a performance that made him rise above Lionel Messi, and everyone else, at the top of Sky Sports' power rankings for Spain's top flight.
Marcelino's men are now on a five-game winning run in the league, which is the first time they have managed that since the 2010-11 campaign when they were managed by Emery, who coincidentally is now in charge of PSG. They finished 3rd that year.
The difference between this season Valencia and the club's fortunes this time last campaign is difficult to be understated.
Valencia record after nine games last season read: won three, lost six, goals scored 13, goals against 18, and they sat 15th in the La Liga table. This time around they have won six, drawn three and therefore remain unbeaten so far.
A total of 25 goals have been scored, 10 have been conceded but an early title challenge is being mounted as they occupy the second place at the moment.
In general, Valencia have been a team reborn but it is Guedes in particular who personifies the club at the moment as both team and player have a point to prove.
Just last January, PSG forked out €30 million on him in what has proved to be one of the most prominent examples of the French outfits reckless spending, especially since the aforementioned arrivals of Neymar and Mbappe.
Even back in January, it seemed to be a move that did not add up to much more than PSG greed, considering they already had, and still have Julian Draxler, Angel di Maria, Javier Pastore and Lucas Moura on their books as it is.
Guedes got just 285 minutes in that second half of the season, he has already surpassed that at Valencia.
While the move to France may already seem like a waste of time, his time in Spain has already been fruitful for both parties.