The Journeyman | Vamos Valencia: Part 5 – Season 1 Reflection

Our first season with Valencia after six years of glory in Sporting was an unprecedented success, wrapping up third place in La Liga and winning the Europa League.

Valencia’s key performers

The main men behind this success statistically-speaking were loan signing Neymar and the surprisingly free-scoring makeshift striker Son Heung-Min.

Neymar, now 34, raced to a club record 15 league assists, which was the second most in La Liga behind Barcelona’s Leroy Sané with 19. In total, Neymar got 19 assists – which broke Alessandro Florenzi’s club record of 12 in 2019 – and 14 goals in all competitions.

Son, on the other hand, scored 20 league goals for the first time in his career, and got 23 in all competitions. Jovane Cabral chipped in with 14 goals in all competitions, along with 13 assists.

Captain Carlos Soler also popped up with an impressive 10 goals and 5 assists from 51 appearances. But the lack of goals beyond this was telling, with Victor Osimhen next on 3, of which only 1 was in the league. Furthermore, only four players got 5 or more assists.

Award winners

A surprising and very quiet key man was another loanee in holding midfielder Marco Kana. He got the highest average rating at the club this season with 7.26 over 46 matches and won the award for fans’ player of the season with 37% of the vote. Cabral was second with 28% then Neymar with 22%.

Neymar unsurprisingly won the goal of the season with this. While Soler recorded an impressive pass completion of 92% across the season and Cabral and Neymar both 7 player of the match awards.

La Liga overview

It’s worth taking a quick look at La Liga just to recognise how good Real Madrid have been this season. They racked up 103 points and won the league by 18 points, but more impressive is their goal tally of 127 goals scored and only 14 conceded.

Furthermore, their man man Kylian Mbappé bagged 39 league goals in just 32 appearances. He scored a goal every 72.38 minutes in the league, and bagged 51 in all competitions. He also had 40 more shots than any other player in the league, which says a lot, and his tally of 169 shots was nearly double that of Cabral, who had the most shots for us, with 87.

Mbappé’s tally of 39 was 17 more than his nearest challenger, Kaio Jorge of Atletico. Son, by the way, finished joint 4th top scorer, which is pretty damn impressive.

Interestingly, Kana had the third most key passes in the league with 96, 12 behind the tally of Barcelona’s very impressive Ilaix Moraiba. While Cabral had the second-most dribbles in the league, only behind Sané.

David Soria had the third-most clean sheets with 20, behind Thibaut Courtois’ 25. Soria kept 23 in all competitions, which broke his own Valencia record of 19.

A look around Europe

Liverpool won their 3rd Premier League in 4 years finishing with 93 points 6 clear of Manchester City. Chelsea’s Erling Haaland and the brilliant and brilliantly named Juan Carlos Juan (see below) top scored with 23 league goals.

Juventus claimed Serie A back from Inter, who had cheekily ended the Old Lady’s streak of 13 titles in 2025, winnng the title with 88 points, 3 clear of Inter. Bayern Munich won their 4th successive Bundesliga, finishing 1 point clear of Borussia Dortmund – who lost their final game of the season to throw away the title.

In Portugal, our former club Sporting won a 7th successive title, they finished 4 clear of Benfica on 82 points – the lowest tally since our second season. Philip Cohen finished as joint top scorer with 16 points – and we’ve been stalking him and a couple of our other former wonderkids for the last few months.

We, of course, won the Europa League. And Real ensured a Spanish domination by winning the Champions League, but they only beat Bayern with a winner in the 5th minute of injury time. Disgusting stuff.

World Cup 2026 Review

The strange new setup of three-team World Cup groups saw Mali and Scotland qualify with three points each ahead of Uruguay, while Iraq managed to have a goal difference of -15 from two matches – losing 7-0 to Germany then 9-1 to Algeria.

A couple of big surprises came in the second round as Mexico defeated Brazil on penalties and South Korea beat Germany 2-1. Then Mali made it through the third round by beating South Korea in a 4-3 thriller, while Spain were knocked out on penalties by Argentina – who knocked out Mali in the quarters 2-1. They were joined in the semis by Portugal, England and France.

England beat Argentina 3-1 with a Harry Kane brace and Portugal beat Italy 2-1 thanks to a last minute Ruben Neves winner. And Portugal became world champions for the first time beating England – of course – on penalties in the final after a 1-1 draw with John Stones’ opener cancelled out by Renato Sanches. Jadon Sancho and now 36 Jordan Henderson were the men to miss from the spot.

Our Sporting old boy Daniel Braganca, who was instantly sold by Sporting to Chelsea, when we left the club played in the heart of midfield for Portugal.

German striker Philip Baumeister, who is very good and just signed for Barca, won the golden boot with 6 goals.

Join us next time as we head into our first full summer transfer window in Spain. And I suspect there’s plenty of work to be done as we rebuild for our second season in Valencia.

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