Homegrown players have long been the backbone of successful Valencia teams, from former defensive lynchpin Voro to current captain Jose Gaya. Today, there is a sharper focus on tying down young talent early after the promising Ferran Torres left for around 25 million euros last summer following failed contract negotiations.
His sale prompted this response from President Anil Murthy: “We have a good group of players from our Academy coming up and we will make sure we don’t have this kind of problem again.”
The club mean what they say. Six Academy graduates have signed new deals in the past year.
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The defender will cherish 2020 more than most. Since his senior debut in February last year, he has started 21 times in 25 LaLiga appearances this past season.
A ball-playing centre-back, the 21-year-old also received his maiden call up to the U-21 Spanish national team last September. He contributed to 7 clean sheets in his first 8 games for the former European champions.
The better news? He signed a contract extension in July 2020 that lasts till summer 2023.
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Valencia’s latest breakout star. He has taken Mestalla by storm following his debut at just 17 last September. Opponents often had to resort to brutish challenges against the youngster. But no one could stop the American winger’s sensational 60-yard dribble to score against Getafe last November.
The teenager was rewarded with a senior call up to the United States national team and a bumper contract that keeps him at Valencia until June 2026. “It would be amazing to win LaLiga with Valencia CF,” he said upon signing.
It has been a frustrating couple of seasons for the attacking midfielder. The future seemed bright for the 22-year-old following his debut in November 2019. However, a combination of injuries, the emergence of outstanding players like Musah and Uros Racic, and Carlos Soler’s inspired form in midfield saw his minutes dry up.
The Spaniard still has time to impress after signing a contract extension till 2024 last September.
Koba Lein Koindredi
In the first of a quickfire triple extension in summer 2021, the 19-year-old midfielder renewed his contract till 2025. A powerful runner armed with silky skills, he made 6 appearances in all competitions and scored once.
He was effusive about Valencia’s youth policy: “This was a really nice year for me. I debuted for the first team in the Copa del Rey and scored a goal as well. This shows the confidence that the club have in the VCF Academy and the young players who are coming through.”
If there’s one thing Valencia do not lack, it’s a quality homegrown left-back. Gaya and Toni Lato are now joined by 18-year-old Jesus Vazquez. The Spaniard made his debut in the Copa del Rey in December 2020, and is hungry for more opportunities after signing his new 4-year contract earlier in June. No one better to learn from than established Spain international Gaya.
Echoing Koba Lein’s sentiments, he said: “A lot of trust has been shown in us young players. Valencia CF are a club that have brought many players through to the first team.”
Credit: Valencia CF
He has certainly waited a long time to make his Valencia bow – his first senior start came at age 22 last December. Goalkeepers are notoriously hard to displace, and with Dutch stopper Jasper Cillessen and Jaume Domenech ahead in the pecking order, Rivero may have to bide his time some more.
His drive to succeed has not waned in the meantime. Having signed till 2024, he said: “The support that I’ve always received from Valencia CF and the people who work here, and the trust that they have shown in me, has been one of the reasons why I renewed.”