Many thanks to Andre Sherard for his insight into how he believes Valencia will do this season and the work they have done over the course of the summer.
What are Valencia's expectations this year?
The lofty expectation of the Peter Lim ownership group is to make the Champions League. With FFP complications and having to sell off key players throughout the summer, it is imperative the team makes it into Europe this season. However, as a fan, I do not think we have made enough impact changes to compete for a top four spot. We bought Nani in the transfer window, but we still have not adequately replaced Nicolas Otamendi, who left for Manchester City last season, and with the constant speculations of Shkodran Mustafi departure, it would leave us with center-backs that do not have enough quality to make it to Europe.
I expect us to be a sixth to seventh place side, we brought in solid players but I think there is more quality in at least five to six sides ahead of us that will leave us outside a spot in Europe completely. But with the unpredictability of what other teams expect from us, it could lead to shocking a couple of the top teams like we did in the 2014/2015 season.
What kind of tactics should we expect?
I expect Paco Ayestarán to put Los Che in a 4-3-3. He wants a fit side who can press against teams they expect to get the front foot on and drop a bit deeper against the top 3 sides in the league. Also the expectation is that there will be a lot of wing play with the side given the addition of Nani and with the emergence of Santi Mina, I expect a lot of shots coming from our wingers.
When we do press, we will be susceptible to counter attacks ourselves. Through the last decade, we struggled with the counter and having a high line.
Who are Valencia's most influential players?
The back-line: if he stays at the Mestalla, Mustafi will continue to lead the lines of a struggling defense. I hope we can make transfer at center-back to be paired with the Arsenal target, but FFP complications are in the way.
Dani Parejo is the most influential player in midfield. He can be hot and cold. A very technical player who is dangerous on set pieces, but also has it in him to dribble into pressure and turn it over and also look lethargic in matches. With his failed attempt at a move to Sevilla and being brought back into the fold at Valencia, I wonder where his head is to start the season.
Nani has the experience at a big club like Manchester United and winning the European Championship this summer. He is expected to help Paco Alcacer with the scoring load.
What have they done during the transfer window?
Our marquee signing of this summer was the aforementioned Nani, who signed from Fenerbache for £7.2m. Other signings are less heralded but covered some of our needs as Alvaro Medran and Mario Suarez fills our midfield. Martin Montoya helps with right back depth. After that, unless we sell a couple of players, we can only submit loan deals to help stave off any FFP problems.
Make one bold prediction for the upcoming season
Valencia will beat Real Madrid and Barcelona over the course of the season. I do not expect a sweep of the four games, but we will beat each at least once in our four meetings.