UPDATE: Mateu Alemany will remain the club’s sporting director for the foreseeable future after all. Following a meeting with owner Peter Lim in Singapore on Friday, apparently, everything’s OK, per a club statement.
In fact, by the end of this week, even Madridistas and Blaugrana supporters might be impressed by the drama at Valencia.
As the reigning Copa del Rey champ and one of four La Liga clubs that punched a ticket to the 2019-20 Champions League, Valencia should be entering the upcoming season on a roll. We’re talking about a team that last season won seven of its last 10 in La Liga and made it to the Europa League semifinals (not to mention beating Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final).
But the momentum from that late-season surge and an until-now solid summer could be long gone by the end of the week.
The club’s sporting director, Mateu Alemany, his right-hand man, Pablo Longoria, and Manager Marcelino are all reportedly on the verge of leaving the club over a dispute with Singaporean owner Peter Lim.
Alemany, Lim clash over transfers
According to Libertad Digital, the clash dates back to an urgent meeting attended by Lim, Alemany and club President Anil Murthy on July 19 in Singapore. That’s when Lim unilaterally decided that the club would not be making any more signings this summer.
Alemany strongly disagreed, to the point that there were widespread reports in Spain on Monday that he was on his way out. And the expectation in some corners was that Longoria and Marcelino would side with him and follow him out the door if he were to leave.
A meeting between Alemany, Longoria and Murthy – who is seemingly acting on Lim’s wishes — lasted all day Monday. The two continued the conversation, which began over the weekend, today.
For what it’s worth, according to As, Alemany said on his way out of the team HQ on Monday after a five-hour discussion, “We are talking. I have always seen myself here and wanted to be in Valencia. It is positive that there is dialogue and things are being discussed and we are searching for solutions to the problems, but they have to be resolved.”
As if Monday’s talks were lacking for intrigue, a crowd of fans gathered outside the site of the meeting chanting about their preference that Alemany stay.
Could José Mourinho get involved?
If that weren’t enough, on Tuesday morning, some began to wonder whether none other than Jose (the Special One) Mourinho would be Marcelino’s replacement if – and this remains a big if – one is needed.
It goes without saying that Mourinho would bring juust a bit more spice to an already explosive situation. This is a good place to point out that Mourinho’s agent, Jorge Mendes, is a partner in Lim’s private investment company, Meriton Holdings, and has had *a number of clients sign with the club over the years.
Not so fast
But by Tuesday afternoon, despite Valencia not releasing an official statement on the matter, the storm appeared (emphasis on appeared) to be blowing over, with Alemany returning to work. Even if Alemany, Longoria and Marcelino stay put, it will be fascinating to monitor what’s left of the club’s summer.
It’s hard to say what the coming weeks hold for Valencia. But a team with this much going for it on the field — and one that is in the Champions League for the second year in a row — should never have any reason to be concerned about sporting director and coaching vacancies two weeks before the season starts. The drama over the weekend – and the fact that so much of it played out so publicly – is the latest reminder of the unfortunately volatile nature of the club’s situation at the highest level.
In conclusion – and we should probably end every article related to offseason player/coaching news in Spain this way – stay tuned.
UPDATE: Speaking of the uncertainty here, Valencian publication Super Deporte’s latest report, as of 5:20 p.m. Eastern, claimed that Alemany is set to fly to Singapore to discuss the matter with Lim personally.
So seriously, stay tuned.
*For an in-depth look at Mendes’ perceived influence on Valencia, check out this breakdown from 2015 by BBC and Sport360 writer Andy West.