Valencia and JDT eyeing youth development link
Valencia and MSL giants explore youth development tie-up
They may not have had the best of times in recent seasons, but there is no denying Valencia are one of Spain's biggest clubs.
Apart from Barcelona and Real Madrid, they are the only team to have been crowned La Liga champions more than once since the turn of the century with their triumphs in the 2001-02 and 2003-04 seasons.
Los Che have also produced a stream of top footballers, with 2010 World Cup winners David Silva, Juan Mata and Raul Albiol just a few of the famous names to have emerged from the Mestalla in recent years.
Just a day after announcing plans to help develop football in Singapore, Valencia are set to do the same across the Causeway.
Yesterday morning, Los Che took a break from their five-day stay in Singapore to travel to Johor Baru, where they held a joint-training session with Johor Darul Ta'zim at the Malaysian champions' stunning new training facility in Padang Seri Gelam.
JDT stars like Singapore midfielder Hariss Harun, Juan Martin Lucero and Amri Yahyah rubbed shoulders with Paco Alcacer, Mathew Ryan, Santi Mina, Javi Fuego and Jaume Domenech.
While all the attention was on the players, both parties revealed that the focus of their upcoming partnership will firmly be on youth.
"We've been talking to JDT for a while about what they're doing with their plans for the academy and a new stadium, and we think we might be able to help," Valencia commercial and marketing director Peter Draper told The New Paper.
"We know they already have a good relationship with Borussia Dortmund so we don't want to tread on anyone's toes, but there might be some opportunities.
ACROSS THE ROAD
"We're going to have a couple of coaches in Singapore and it's really only across the road, so there are things that we might be able to do to help the academy and development of excellence (at JDT).
"There are a variety of things we've had discussions about and we'll take them to the next level in the next couple of months."
When probed on any sort of agreement with Valencia down the road, JDT sporting director Alistair Edwards said: "We obviously still want to concentrate on our top end and attract good players for our first team, but it's crucial for the sustainability of the club to develop our own players.
"Real Madrid and Barcelona are the (big) name clubs from Spain, but we really investigated what actually happens at the grassroots and academy structures, and what happens in Valencia is world-class.
"It's all about learning from the best for the benefit of our club and we identified the culture at Valencia as exactly what we need at JDT.
"An event like today's proves that we're not just talking…
"It's actually tangible and we're now looking to build on that and there's a lot more coming.
"This is only the beginning."
While Valencia will have plenty to offer the reigning Malaysian Super League and AFC Cup champions, Draper brushed aside suggestions that the Spanish side would only be giving without taking.
"Absolutely, we wouldn't see it as being a one-way relationship," said Draper, whose previous roles include being marketing director at Manchester United.
"We're looking to build our name and reputation and we can do that in partnership with a variety of different entities, including other football clubs.
"(JDT) are very popular around here, so why wouldn't we look to piggyback on that, in the nicest way possible. It's all about being better in every aspect and it (the partnership) would be good for us in the region."
"Real Madrid and Barcelona are the (big) name clubs from Spain, but we really investigated what actually happens at the grassroots and academy structures, and what happens in Valencia is world-class."
— Johor Darul Ta’zim sporting director Alistair Edwards
"Especially after what happened in the last edition, we have to put in a better showing this time and give the fans some joy."
— JDT midfielder Hariss Harun, on leading Singapore to glory in the year-end AFF Suzuki Cup