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Valencia XI if they hadn't sold their best players

Valencia make for an envious best XI of sold players.
Valencia make for an envious best XI of sold players.
Sachin Bhat
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There are quite a few teams across Europe's top-five leagues who've carved a niche for themselves as 'selling clubs', clubs that normally recruit promising young talent from all over the world and then sell them to bigger and mightier sides at a significant profit. One such team is Valencia.

La Liga outfit Valencia have sold numerous top stars in the last decade for handsome prices. In fact, the club has raked in over €500 million from the sale of players since 2009, making them one of the best 'selling clubs' in the continent.

Credit in this regard goes to Valencia's amazing scouting network, which has been able to replace the club's outgoing stars with someone of similar quality or stature almost every time.


Valencia XI if they hadn't sold their best players

We've put together a fascinating XI (formation: 4-4-2) of the best players in every position that Valencia have sold in recent times:

Honourable mentions:

Ferran Torres, Andre Gomes, Rodrigo Moreno, Paco Alcacer, Neto, Jeremy Mathieu and Raul Albiol.

Without further ado, let's get started.


Goalkeeper: Diego Alves (Flamengo)

Diego Alves saved more penalties than any other goalkeeper during his time at Valencia.
Diego Alves saved more penalties than any other goalkeeper during his time at Valencia.

We could have gone with Neto here, who had two good seasons with Los Che before moving to Barcelona last year. Instead, we have picked Diego Alves, who is one of the most decorated players in Valencia's recent history and is a veteran of 175 caps.

Despite getting relegated with Almeria in 2011, Valencia swooped in for Diego Alvez, throwing him a lifeline to remain in the top flight, and the custodian made the most of it, establishing himself as one of the best shot-stoppers in the division over the next six years.

Diego Alvez became particularly well-known for his prowess in saving penalty kicks, earning him the reputation of a 'spot-kick specialist'.

In fact, he is one of very few goalkeepers to have denied both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi from the spot. Some of his other high-profile scalps include Antoine Griezmann, Diego Costa, Ivan Rakitic, Fernando Llorente and Carlos Bacca.

By the time Diego Alvez left for Brazilian side Flamengo in 2017, he had saved the most penalties (23) in the history of the Spanish top flight, beating Andoni Zubizaretta's previous record of 16 spot-kicks.

Right-back: Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)

Joao Cancelo is fast becoming a key member of Pep Guardiola's plans at Manchester City.
Joao Cancelo is fast becoming a key member of Pep Guardiola's plans at Manchester City.

Joao Cancelo came through the ranks at Benfica, and just when he was on the cusp of breaking into the senior team in 2014, Valencia swooped in with a lucrative loan offer, which he duly agreed to and continued his development in the Spanish top flight.

Despite a stop-start debut campaign, where he made just ten appearances in the league, Valencia signed him permanently. Over the next two seasons, the Portuguese international made the right-back spot his own.

However, a few error-prone displays in the 2016-17 season prompted the end of Joao Cancelo's time at the Mestalla, where he made 91 appearances and scored 13 goals.

Two successful years later in Serie A with Inter Milan and Juventus, where he featured in the competition's team of the year on both occasions, Cancelo is now hitting his strides under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.


Centre-back: Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal)

A dream return to Valencia might be on the cards for the beleaguered Shkodran Mustafi.
A dream return to Valencia might be on the cards for the beleaguered Shkodran Mustafi.

Now somewhat of an estranged figure at Arsenal, Shkodran Mustafi has fallen out of favour at the Emirates, making just 17 appearances in the league since the start of last season. His knee problems haven't helped his cause either.

However, not long ago, Mustafi was a highly sought-after defender in Europe for his performances with Valencia, where he enjoyed two impressive campaigns after arriving from Sampdoria in 2014.

Settling in at Valencia instantly, he forged a stoic partnership with Nicolas Otamendi in his first season at the club. Even though the Argentine left for Manchester City the next year, Mustafi continued to hold his own.

Still only 28, Skhodran Mustafi has time to resurrect his faltering career. Some reports even suggest that Barcelona and Valencia could be interested in bringing the star back to the Spanish top flight.


Centre-back: Nicolas Otamendi (Benfica)

Nicolas Otamendi made a huge impression at Valencia despite playing just one season.
Nicolas Otamendi made a huge impression at Valencia despite playing just one season.

The only one-season player in this list, Nicolas Otamendi was an absolute beast at Valencia during the 2014-15 season, guiding the side back to the Champions League with his defensive nous and leadership qualities.

Signed from Porto for €12 million, the Argentinian international also became the first centre-back in the club's history to score six goals in a La Liga season. Most of these goals came from set-piece situations, with his top-notch performances also earning him a place in the league's best XI of the season.

Otamendi joined Manchester City later that summer, and after five trophy-laden years at the club, he moved to Benfica in August this year.


Left-back: Jordi Alba (FC Barcelona)

Jordi Alba made 110 appearances for Valencia in three seasons, contributing 14 goals.
Jordi Alba made 110 appearances for Valencia in three seasons, contributing 14 goals.

Originally a left-winger, Jordi Alba was played at the left-back position by Unai Emery at Valencia during the 2009-10 season, the player's first at the club, due to several injury concerns in defence. And suffice to say, the Spaniard acclimatised to his new role superbly.

Alba went on to grow in that position by leaps and bounds over the next two seasons.

Following his superb performances with Spain at Euro 2012, Alba joined his hometown club Barcelona, where he established himself as one of the greatest full-backs in La Liga history.

Right Midfielder: Juan Mata (Manchester United)

Juan Mata was one of the best young players at Valencia.
Juan Mata was one of the best young players at Valencia.

Valencia were greatly impressed by Juan Mata's scoring feat with Real Madrid Castilla in the 2006-07 season. The then-19-year-old Spaniard netted ten times despite his side getting relegated, before Valencia proceeded to activate his release clause.

The Bats, at the time, were blighted by injuries to first-choice players like Vicente and Miguel Angel Angulo. That allowed Mata to slot right into then-Valencia manager Unai Emery's plans as the player gradually carved a niche for himself in the team's first XI.

Mata played a crucial role in Valencia's Copa De Rey success in his first season at the club; he scored in the final and didn't look back thereafter.

In his next three years at Valencia, Mata's career blossomed, and by the end of the 2010-11 season, he made 174 appearances, contributing 98 goals.

The Spaniard has since had impressive spells with Chelsea and Manchester United in the Premier League, where he has established himself as one of the best attacking midfielders.


Central midfielder: Ever Banega (Al-Shabab Riyadh)

Ever Banega's time at Valencia was blighted with injuries and disciplinary issues.
Ever Banega's time at Valencia was blighted with injuries and disciplinary issues.

Ever Banega's best moments came at Sevilla, where he won three Europa League titles and made a name for himself as an accomplished set-piece taker. But it was a long road for the Argentine star to get there, as he had a difficult stint at the Mestalla.

Banega's time at Valencia was riddled with misdemeanours and misadventures off the field. He was caught performing a lewd act on a webcam; he turned up drunk at training and got run over by his own car after forgetting to put the handbrake on.

On the field though, Banega was a formidable talent, impressing with his amazing skillset and stepping up in the big moments.

His wild Valencia tenure ended with a loan move back to his country, where he joined Newells Old Boys in January 2014 after making 176 appearances; Banega provided 30 assists, scored 11 goals and won one trophy at Valencia.

Banega is presently plying his trade in the Saudi Professional League with Al-Shabab Riyadh, after joining the club this summer.


Central Midfielder: Dani Parejo (Villarreal)

Dani Parejo spent nine years at Valencia before joining Villarreal this August.
Dani Parejo spent nine years at Valencia before joining Villarreal this August.

Dani Parejo is another product of Real Madrid's youth academy who couldn't cut it with the first team. Valencia recognized the player's potential during his two impressive years with Getafe and signed him for €6 million in a swap deal involving goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya going the other way.

Struggling to force his way into the side and even deemed surplus to requirements after only his first season at the club, Parejo endured a baptism of fire at the Mestalla. However, he soldiered on, fought to prove himself and later became a key cog for the club as it went through a crisis.

Parejo was an undisputed starter at Valencia under various managers. In the 2014-15 season, he even took up the captain's armband. He shouldered the responsibility with aplomb by netting a career-best tally of 12 goals and guiding his side to Copa Del Rey success over mighty Barcelona last year.

After nine years at the club, the Spaniard joined Valencia's city rivals Villarreal this summer. During his stint at the club, Parejo earned 383 caps, which is the eighth-best in the club's all-time list, and scored 63 goals and provided as many assists.


Left Midfielder: David Silva (Real Sociedad)

David Silva is a Manchester City legend but made in Valencia.
David Silva is a Manchester City legend but made in Valencia.

David Silva will forever be remembered for his time with Manchester City, where he broke numerous records and lifted several trophies during ten highly successful years in the Premier League. However, it was at Valencia where the midfield maestro truly announced himself to the world, bursting onto the scene in 2006 as a promising youngster.

A product of the club's youth academy, Silva was only 20 when he first arrived at the Mestalla. But he took no time to establish himself in the Valencia first team.

Over the next four years, Silva became a club great, scoring and assisting 64 goals in 168 games and winning the Copa Del Rey title in 2008.

Striker: Roberto Soldado (Granada)

Roberto Soldado could never replicate his Valencia heroics with any side after leaving the Mestalla.
Roberto Soldado could never replicate his Valencia heroics with any side after leaving the Mestalla.

After struggling to break into Real Madrid's first team, Robert Soldado established himself as one of the deadliest finishers in La Liga after successful spells with Osasuna and Getafe before joining hometown club Valencia to replace the outgoing David Villa in 2010.

The Spaniard enjoyed the most prolific period of his career at the Mestalla, scoring 81 goals in 141 games for Valencia across three seasons, which included a 30-goal haul in the 2012-13 season.

Tottenham Hotspur paid a club-record fee of £26 million for his services that summer. However, Soldado has since struggled with injuries and loss of form. Last year, he returned to the Spanish top flight with Granada.


Striker: David Villa (Retired)

David Villa established himself as one of the greatest strikers in Valencia's history.
David Villa established himself as one of the greatest strikers in Valencia's history.

Spain legend David Villa was already one of the hottest players in the country by the time he joined Valencia in 2005, after bagging 80 goals across the previous four seasons with Sporting Gijon and Real Zaragoza.

At Valencia, the striker improved his goalscoring rate further, scoring 129 times in 224 appearances to firmly establish himself among the deadliest finishers on the planet.

He led his side to Copa Del Rey success in 2008 and also finished as the most prolific Spaniard in La Liga in four out of five seasons during his time at Valencia, with his best return coming in the 2008-09 season, when he netted 31 goals.

Villa then went on to enjoy trophy-laden spells with Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and New York City before seeing out the final year of his career with Japanese side Vissel Kobe in 2019.

Edited by Bhargav
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