Club Focus – Valencia – Mata, Marchena and Banega to step up following high-profile departures

The departures continue at Valencia, with 31-year-old Spanish centre-half Carlos Marchena completing his move to La Liga rivals Villareal. The World Cup winner penned a three year deal with the Yellow Submarines where he will link up with fellow international Joan Capdevila. The former Sevilla and Benfica man spent a successful 10 years with Los Che, winning two League titles, a UEFA Cup, Copa Del Rey and Super Cup. His move now leaves coach Unai Emery short of options at the heart of his defence, with new signing Ricardo Costa expected to step in for the start of the season.

Meanwhile there is some good news surrounding another of Valencia’s World Cup winners. Pacey winger Juan Mata, who has been linked with a move away to the club looks set to be staying at the Mestalla: “The club have told me that I’m not for sale and for that reason I am very relaxed,” Mata told journalists in a recent press conference. “It has been the best summer that I could have wished for, winning the World Cup. I have been disconnected from football for a few days, recharging my batteries ahead of the new season and letting what we have achieved sink in. In the moment you are up in the clouds, and as time passes you realise that it was a really important achievement.”

The 22-year-old also remains upbeat regarding the Murcialagos’ chances this season. “I am very excited,” he said. “Some important teammates have left, but the club have done well in signing young players with passion. We will all have to play out of our skins to have a good season, but as a player I want to improve and continue being an important part of things. We all have the responsibility to have a good season and do the club proud in the league, in Europe and in the domestic cup.

“I am happy in Valencia and I feel appreciated. The fans and the club treat me very well, and the supporters have been right behind me since I arrived here. I think that the team can be just as competitive as before. The manager has said so, as has the president.”

Mata looks set to be the man to replace inspirational playmaker David Silva who recently switched to Manchester City. His and David Villa’s exits look set to have forced a change in tactics from Emery, who is set to switch to a 4-3-3 formation, a change that is backed by midfielder Ever Banega.

“It doesn’t matter to me what system we use, as long as we play the football that we want to play,” he said. “With a midfield three you have a little less freedom to roam, but the most important thing for us will be to stick together and push on with the system that the manager has chosen.”

The dynamic Argentine is also in good spirits ahead of the big kick-off sharing Mata’s optimism: “(My goals are) To play well, make a space for myself in the starting eleven and get as far as we can in the Champions League. This year we have to fight for honours, because that is important. In the league we should keep calm and finish near the top, as we did last year.”

With a feeling of confidence surrounding the camp the foundations for a successful campaign are in place. Emery’s men are next in action on 6th August against English Premier League outfit Aston Villa.

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