Wednesday December 18 2013
The brilliance of Borja Valero

Borja Valero continued his fine season as Fiorentina comprehensively defeated Bologna last weekend. Luca Cetta praises the midfielder still hoping to go to Brazil.

How is he not? It’s a subject regular observers ponder. How is Borja Valero not included in the Spanish national squad? “That’s always the first thing the Italian journalists ask me, but I try not to think about it,” he told Marca in a recent interview. A player of grace, vision and football acumen, but one on the periphery at international level.

It’s a strong national team, to be fair. The most successful in history. And Valero is a creative midfielder – La Roja are not short of those.The former Villarreal midfielder does have one cap to his name, from a 2011 friendly against the United States. It included an assist for Fernando Torres to score the fourth goal. Since then, nothing.

“I honestly don’t think about it anymore,” Valero said in October about his chances of going to Brazil. “The squad has now come together and is essentially closed. I always play to give my best, but I think for me, it is almost impossible to play at the World Cup.”

Nonetheless, he admitted earlier this month the dream is still to go to Brazil. “If I get a call to the national team then I’ll be happy, otherwise peace,” stated the midfielder. “There is always hope because to play in a World Cup would be something unique. I know it will be quite difficult for me, but a call would be very satisfying.”

There was initial scepticism surrounding Valero’s move to Fiorentina. It wasn’t against the player as such – Villarreal fans would tell you how talented he is – but Spaniards have never taken to Serie A. Only a couple have truly succeeded, both in the 1960s – Il Grande Inter’s Luis Suarez and Luis Del Sol at Juventus.

The feeling is reciprocal, with few Italians excelling in Spain. Two different schools of football that have never meshed. Although with the recent Spanish influx and regular tournament meetings over the past five years, perhaps now there’s mutual respect. And Valero’s performances have done their part to quell the legend.

He has already tried his hand at foreign football, leaving Mallorca for West Bromwich Albion in 2008. A club record signing, Valero’s only season ended in relegation from the Premier League. The 28-year-old subsequently spent two terms on loan, firstly back at Mallorca, then Villarreal. In 2011-12 the midfielder signed with the Yellow Submarine permanently, but again suffered the shock of relegation. Fiorentina pounced.

Their 2011-12 campaign also proved disastrous, the Viola finishing closer to the drop zone than Europe. Vincenzo Montella was appointed and the team overhauled. Valero was one of the jewels of their transfer campaign, a player to help facilitate Montella’s attacking principles.

A highly impressive Gigliati outfit went within 10 minutes of the Champions League. Valero said it was probably his best individual season. And he’s picked up this term where he left off in 2012-13. Few midfielders are on the ball as much as the Spaniard. Few can boast his passing accuracy, sitting at just over 87 per cent.

Given their summer signings, Fiorentina were tipped to be around the Champions League mark again. Defeat at Roma meant a five point gap to Napoli. Bologna, Sunday’s visitors to the Stadio Artemio Franchi, were taught a lesson. Valero was one of the chief instigators.

Josip Ilicic opened the scoring with a fine individual effort. Then it was the Borja Show. He was central to the Viola’s flowing football – aided by Bologna’s Swiss cheese-like defence – and doubled the advantage with a precision finish into the bottom corner. The goal was his fifth of the campaign, a fortnight after a brace against Verona. Giuseppe Rossi was on the end of Valero’s exquisite pass to lob the third over Gianluca Curci.

For Montella it was Fiorentina’s best performance of the season. The Coach then praised his Spanish maestro. “Borja Valero does remind me of Seba Veron – especially his haircut! He is a fantastic player who is able to read the play before anyone else. He’ll become a great Coach one day.”

Valero will be hoping further performances of this ilk can aid a late bid for a spot in the national squad travelling to Brazil. It would be a fitting way to crown his time to date in Florence, where he feels at ease, national team or not. “I feel appreciated in Italy and I appreciate them in return. I always say each person has to find their place in the world and, perhaps, this is where I feel I belong the most.”

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Have your say...
he is a perfect midfield for viola, his ball control, passing and assist are high class. he is the best midfield that viola ever had and same level as rui costa.
on the 23rd December, 2013 at 8:09am
Sad to see a inter side defending and trying to counter attack for 80 minutes. Beyond disappointed clearly for the result but even more for th lack of balls inter showed. Your just as big team as Milan yet you played like a second leg game and a draw was enough for you. Sad and quite frankly not well deserved. I guess that Mazzaris style. Constantly complain and for some reason with inter defend and rely on counter
on the 22nd December, 2013 at 10:59pm
which one of the Hansen brothers are you BeBop?
on the 22nd December, 2013 at 7:43pm

Yet we went through in CL as we always do while other team struggled. Milan will rise again as we always do, I'll laugh so hard at you then. Sad hater
on the 22nd December, 2013 at 1:28pm
Your fooling nobody GMangs...
on the 22nd December, 2013 at 3:11am
i called this before he showed up. where are all the doubters now?
on the 21st December, 2013 at 3:21pm
Few years ago Serie A had 3 out of 4 spots in champions league semis. Nobody was putting down italian football then. Football - just as life in general- goes round and round. Now it seems german football is on top. Still, no league is "better" or "best", theyre just different. Different styles require different skillsets. Players that excel in different leagues show their versatility and capacity to adapt. To me that speaks volumes!
on the 21st December, 2013 at 2:48pm
I agree with Daniel....players adapt differently to different leagues....however the arrogance of the English means if they don't do it England they are bad players.
on the 20th December, 2013 at 1:12pm
I have some sympathy as a follow milan fan but seriously i think this is the wrong way to go to bring this subject. as for valero is the epl he virtually played every game possible for west brom that season unfortunately he was just part of a team doomed to relegation. You can't judge a player on 1 season anyway are you go at bale for struggling during his first year at spurs 11 starts 0 wins for spurs was his record at the time before spending a ton of time out injured.
on the 20th December, 2013 at 12:57pm
Players adapt to some leagues better than others. Bergkamp & Henry struggled in Italy, but excelled in England; Veron & Shevchenko vice versa. Valero was a different player 5 years ago. In the here & now, he is exceptional.

Contradiction Galliani: Niang, Cristante, & Sap out, 2 27 year olds in??Or does he mean the coach? The stories linking Milan to AVB are worrying. When you listen to him speak, it's no surprise that his teams look like a confused lot, with no clear gameplan.
on the 20th December, 2013 at 11:32am
No one cares about Milan. Heck, they're even on points with Cagliari. If you're going to go off topic, at least do it about something interesting.
on the 20th December, 2013 at 6:43am
It does annoy me how people come up with lines like " so and so just couldn't handle the pace of the premier league" as if to suggest that pace and physicality are the two most important factors in football. I'd love to see all of these sprinters who have been trained to (try and) play football come to a league where technique, tactical awareness, and positioning are vastly more important than pace. I'm fairly certain the majority would end up running round like headless chickens.
on the 20th December, 2013 at 12:40am
Valero is possibly one of the under rated players in the Italian league, what he brings to fiorentina is as important as anything which rossi aquilani or cuadrado provide the viola. last year he was the 3rd highest assist maker in the league this season he is second and bare in mind he is central midfield player and unlike hamsik didn't have cavanni to pass the ball to. As for his lack of caps it is more of a reflection of spain pure quality rather than valero ability.
on the 19th December, 2013 at 11:11pm
Now I did comment on the article so allow me one rant about Milan. Galliani's comments today about Milan relying on youth and hilariously referring to Matri who we sold and bought back for 11m (after he'd helped our rivals win Serie A). He's absolutely deluded if he thinks a squad of 31 players with average free signings crowding out young players like Cristante, Niang, Saponara and SES is any kind of policy for encouraging youth development. I cannot wait for him to go.
on the 19th December, 2013 at 12:26pm
Going back again to the subject of the article the EPL should not proud of the fact that a player like this couldn't "stick it on a rainy day in Stoke". It shows a serious lack of technical quality. Borqa is a cracking player and unfortunately for the reasons mentioned in my first post will end up either back in Spain or the EPL. Hopefully it is the former as it wouldn't terrible to see him getting his leg broken in the EPL.
on the 19th December, 2013 at 12:24pm
Serie A is far from perfect and the Ultras do make stadiums not particularly family friendly but at least there's still some passion. The point about "pace" is just such a generalisation as to be ridiculous. Milan play with no pace (under Allegri). Roma, Fiorentina, Inter and Juve play at a very fast pace. The subject of this article is a case in point of how to move the ball quickly. It was almost farcical how unlucky Juve and Napoli were in Europe. It does not show anything.
on the 19th December, 2013 at 12:22pm
@ Paul not that I plan to engage much with you and Boss but as a general point this whole issue of the pace of Serie A v EPL is really just nonsense. The EPL is "better" is because the clubs have got more money i.e. they are owned by oligarchs and sheiks. This has the advantage of giving clubs "loads of money" but has the disadvantage of killing the English game by undermining a) any connection between the fans and the club and b)the national team. The long term effects will be very damaging.
on the 19th December, 2013 at 12:18pm
I saw him play several times when he was at the Albion, if he put as much effort into playing as diving he may have been effective. Don't expect any bid from any Premier league clubs.
on the 19th December, 2013 at 9:39am
this blog couldn't come soon enough hes great really lets go back a few blogs about how much pace there isn't in the Italian league and how everyone jumped down mine and bosses neck for highlighting the fact now some Q and A how well did he do in the EPL where there is pace.but in series A hes fantastic couldn't hold a place down at west brom the admin also sort this poxy captcha its mostly unreadable ffs
on the 18th December, 2013 at 11:25pm
Another Melo, not a winner, for god shake Juve steer clear.
on the 18th December, 2013 at 9:37pm
He reminds me more of Zidane than Veron. His close control is exceptional, he wriggles out of impossible situations so many times. He was an absolute bargain & is a great asset to Italian football.
on the 18th December, 2013 at 12:05pm

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