Football

Player sales increase pressure on Valencia owner Peter Lim

Fans plan protest as Francis Coquelin and Dani Parejo join Ferran Torres out the Mestalla door

Valencia have sold midfielders Francis Coquelin and Dani Parejo to La Liga rivals Villarreal, both sides said on Wednesday (Aug 12), heaping further criticism on owner Peter Lim over his management of the club.

Neither club gave details of the transfer fee involved although Spanish media reports said Villarreal would pay a maximum of 11 million euros (S$17.8m) for both players, who each signed a four-year deal with the club.

Villarreal finished fifth in La Liga last season to qualify for the Europa League and last month named former Arsenal boss Unai Emery as coach.

Coquelin joined Valencia in 2018 for 14 million euros after a 10-year stay at Arsenal, while Parejo ends a nine-year spell with Valencia, in which he captained the team to the 2019 Copa del Rey, the club’s first piece of silverware in 11 years.

The sale of two key players for a relatively small fee to one of Valencia’s closest competitors and local rivals  has unleashed a new wave of criticism from supporters and former players against Singaporean billionaire Lim.

Former Valencia goalkeeper Santiago Canizares has led the criticism on social media, while supporters group Salvem Nostre Valencia (Let’s Save Our Valencia) has called for a protest later on Wednesday outside the club’s Mestalla stadium.

Lim, who bought the club in 2014, made the surprising decision to sack Marcelino last year, soon after he led the club to Copa del Rey glory and qualification for the Champions League for a second consecutive season.

The team declined under successor Albert Celades, who was later sacked in June, eventually finishing ninth in the league and missing out on European football.

Former Watford coach Javi Gracia was appointed as the club’s latest coach at the end of last month.
Valencia also sold promising youngster Ferran Torres, believed to be one of the brightest hopes in Spanish football, to Manchester City earlier this month for 23 million euros.

After the move, he said he had been willing to stay at his boyhood club but Valencia did not do enough to keep him.

Lim has also received criticism from the city’s vice-mayor for failing to fund the construction of the club’s unfinished Nou Mestalla stadium, where work began in 2007 but was halted in 2009 due to Spain’s economic crisis. – REUTERS

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