The Journeyman | Vamos Valencia: Part 13 – Season 3 Reflection

Our third season in Spain, and ninth of this save in total, was an unmitigated success as Valencia CF lifted their first La Liga trophy for 24 years. Not only that, we also won the club’s first Copa del Rey title since 2019.

This blog will explore our top performers, dig into the stats from the season just gone, and look at any potential requirements for the summer transfer window.

2027/28 key performers

There’s only one place to begin this section. Philip Cohen.

In the midst of Son Heung-Min leaving the club last summer we were left without a recognised first-team striker. To fill that gap we raided former club Sporting Lisbon and smashed the club’s record transfer with the £40 million, rising to £60 million, signing of English striker Philip Cohen.

The attacker has already more than paid off that transfer fee by bagging 34 goals in 45 appearances in all competitions. That included an impressive 27 goals in 34 league matches.

His importance is portrayed by our next top scorer being Philippe Marquet on 13, and he barely played in the last few months of the season. They were followed by another Englishman in right winger Raldane Barber – who we signed on a free at the start of the season – and Argentinian Juan Martín Sancho – who has become a superstar in the last couple of months – on 9 goals each.

José Gaya, who is now just 15 short of breaking the all-time Valencia league appearances record, chipped in with 8 goals all from the penalty spot. However, he also had the most assists at the club with an impressive 15 in 44 appearances.

Sancho popped up with 10 assists, then Barber with 7 – although only 1 was in the league – and loanee Carlos Dias and Marco Kana on 6. Another loanee Josha Vagnoman got 5 assists from right-back. While captain and advanced playmaker in midfield Carlos Soler had a relatively quiet season of 3 goals and 3 assists compared to 8 goals and 9 assists the previous season.

Cohen was unsurprisingly our highest rated player with an impressive average rating of 7.46. Nearly as good was the quietly effective Kana on 7.40 from 41 appearances.

Valencia award winners

Cohen claimed La Liga Top Goalscorer, Antonio de Lima (who I realise I never mention) won Goalkeeper of the Year, and I won Manager of the Year for the first time in Spain. We also had 6 players in the Team of the Season and 2 more on the bench – which earned Itamar Junges a cool £300k bonus.

Cohen unsurprisingly won the fans’ player of the season with 40% of the vote, followed by Kana (35%) and Gaya (16%). He also won the club’s signing of the season and young player of the season, and went home with the award for the top marksman in Europe.

La Liga team stats

We scored the second most goals in La Liga with 73, only bettered by runner-up Barcelona’s 77. And our 18 goals conceded was second only to Barca’s impressive 17. Other than that, it’s hard to really see one area that was responsible for us being the best team in Spain.

We ranked in the middle of the league for passes completed, completed the 6th most passes, 5th best shots on target ratio, 7th most shots on target, 14th best tackles won ratio, 15th most headers won, joint-worst headers won ratio, and the 4th most dribbles.

However, we did have the best chance conversion ratio of 14%, and the next best was 11% – I suspect Mr Cohen is to thank for that.

Interestingly for my sides, we only had the 11th best possession with an average of 50%. Osasuna had the most with 56% and they got relegated in 19th position, so clearly possession is overrated.

We only conceded from one direct free-kick and two indirect free-kicks and only let in three goals from corners, which are very positive numbers. And we had the joint-most clean sheets of 25 tied with Barca.

In other news, Eibar only scored 14 goals in 38 league matches, but somehow got 18 points!

La Liga player stats

Cohen was by far the top scorer in the league on 27, with Real Madrid’s Erling Haaland his nearest competitor on 20. Barca’s Ilaix Moriba was next with an impressive 18 goals from midfield, 8 of which were penalties.

Cohen also had the 4th best average rating in the league of 7.49. Real Sociedad’s 34-year-old Mateo Kovacic was top with an impressive 7.64 from 28 appearances and 10 player of the match awards. Barca’s Moriba wasn’t far behind on 7.57 from 34 appearances. Cohen also had the best average minutes per goal of 112.3 and had the 4th most shots and shots on target in the league.

Gaya had the most assists in La Liga with 13 and Sancho’s 8 was joint 9th. Sancho covered the 6th most ground in the league of 268.43 miles at an average of 8.3 miles per match and had the 8th most dribbles.

Kana had the 5th most key passes with 83, well short of Michael Aibischer’s 112 for Sevilla. While him and Vadran Cula both had the second best pass completion ratio of 93%, which is very impressive considering all the other players in the top 10 were goalkeepers!

A look around Europe

There was also a surprise title winner in England as Arsenal won their first Premier League since, like Valencia, 2004. Which is kind of a weird anomaly! They racked up 97 points to finish 8 clear of Liverpool, whose winger Emmanual Vignato was top scorer with 27 goals.

No shocks in Italy as Juventus wrestled the title back from AC Milan nor in Germany where Bayern won a 6th consecutive title. Our striker Federico Seoane actually finished 2nd top scorer in Bundesliga with 21 goals for Schalke – we loaned him out as we had too many non-EU players, but I’d totally forgotten about him!

PSG won back-to-back titles in France, racking up 102 points to finish 22 clear of Monaco.

Next season

Looking ahead to next season, two backup players Rodrigo Fernandes and Daniele Rugani are both out of contract this season and I think I’ll let them both move on. Loanee Carlos Dias has been excellent so I may try to sign him, and there are plenty of exciting youngsters ready to step up for more game time. So I’m definitely excited to continue life in Valencia, although there is a distinct lack of transfer funds available.

Join us next time as we look to rebuild for Season 4 in Valencia and set about defending our La Liga title!

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