Season preview: Valencia

Season preview: Valencia
© PA Photos
Sports Mole discusses whether Valencia can challenge for the top four in the new La Liga season.

Valencia just missed out on the top four in La Liga last season, a failure which ultimately cost them the services of Roberto Soldado this summer.

They will be keen to rectify that in the new season, but thus far they have not been too active in the transfer market with the new season less than two weeks away.

Here, Sports Mole discusses whether Valencia can recover from last season's disappointment to enjoy a successful campaign in Spain's top flight.

In: Michel (Levante), Javi Fuego (Rayo Vallecano), Oriol Romeu (Chelsea – Loan), Paco Alcacer (Getafe)

Out: Roberto Soldado (Tottenham Hotspur), Tino Costa (Spartak Moscow), Nelson Valdez (Al-Jazira), Fernando Gago (Boca Juniors), David Albelda (Released)

Last season: Fifth

Manager: Miroslav Dukic

Three key players:

Valencia's Jonas celebrates a goal against Atletico Madrid on March 31, 2013© AP Photos
Jonas: Having lost Soldado to Spurs this summer, Jonas will need to have a big campaign for the club if Valencia are to challenge for the top four. In terms of his goal record, he struck 13 times in the league last season, which is impressive when taking into account that he does not operate through the middle. It had been suggested that the 29-year-old could seek a move back to Brazil this summer, but it does appear that he will remain for at least one more season. It hasn't been the best of summers for Valencia in the transfer market thus far, but in Jonas, they still possess one of the most talented attackers in the division.

Valencia's Sergio Canales on September 21, 2011© PA Photos
Sergio Canales: Had the 22-year-old stayed clear of injury in the early part of his career, it is not difficult to imagine him playing week-in week-out for Real Madrid and for the Spanish national team. He eventually departed the capital outfit in 2011, initially on loan, before making that move permanent last summer. He was restricted to just 13 league appearances last season, but when selected, it was not difficult to recognise his stunning talent. It is understood that he has undergone serious fitness work in the summer, which should stand him in good stead for the new season. A fully-fit Canales would be like a new signing for Valencia.

Adil Rami© PA Photos
Adil Rami: It is not too difficult to understand why a number of European clubs are interested in signing the Frenchman this summer. Aside from the obvious, Rami has been one of the most consistent performers in La Liga since arriving from French side Lille in 2011. Despite suffering from injury last term, he did manage to make 20 league appearances for the club. When he was not in the team, it certainly showed with his leadership and experience sorely missed. What Valencia need more than anything in the new season is leadership, something which Rami will certainly provide.

First game: Malaga (H) Aug 17

Sports Mole says: Valencia were not a one-man team last season, far from it, but it is difficult to underestimate what the sale of Soldado has done to their prospects in the new campaign. The Spanish international struck 24 times in the league last season, with his goals one of the main reasons why the club remained in the hunt for the top four. That's not to suggest that Valencia no longer have goals in their team, but they do need to add to their attack if they are to challenge for the top four in the new season. They are well-equipped in midfield with the highly-talented duo of Ever Banega and Sofiane Feghouli, but you just wonder whether they have enough goals to really worry the top teams in the division.

Predicted finish: Sixth

Roberto Soldado
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