At Valencia, youth is not wasted on the young. Youth means experience when you’re playing for last season’s second youngest LaLiga team.
Club president Anil Murthy has extolled the virtues of “Project Academy”, a plan to promote homegrown players who will become first-team regulars for Los Che, or elsewhere. In 2020, Valencia accounted for 28 first-division professionals across Europe’s top 5 leagues – the 5th-most productive club according to the International Centre for Sports Studies.
But teams cannot solely rely on their academies to succeed in today’s cash-strapped market. They must buy smart, and in the Bats’ case, buy young too.
Hugo Duro, all of 21 years old but with top flight experience since he was 17, has joined the ranks. The Spaniard, 20-year-old goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili and 24-year-old forward Marcos Andre are all under 25 and form half of Valencia’s summer recruits.
More importantly, the team is led by academy products: captain Jose Gaya (26) and Carlos Soler (24), who is one of 3 vice-captains. Uros Racic (23), Thierry Correia (22), Hugo Guillamon (21) and Yunus Musah (18) round up the core.
“It’s true that Gaya and Soler are young players, but they have lots of experience when it comes to the field,” Duro shared with Batzine in an interview. “They have clear ideas and know what they have to do (to win).”
Fast learners are welcome. And the better you are at swimming – rather than sinking – the more chances you’ll get to impress at the deep end. Valencia’s young guns constantly rack up appearances as they start early, explained Duro.
“Some of the younger guys here have more experience than older players at other teams,” he added.
Maturity will come at lightspeed now that Jose Bordalas is at the wheel as the boss is unafraid of blooding his charges in games of high stakes. Case in point: Duro’s first 2 starts were against Real Madrid and Sevilla and he scored in both games.
Being young is not a disadvantage at Valencia. Our tyros are up for the fight.