Borja Valero: Italian Expert On The Schemer To Take Tottenham To The Next Level...
Every so often a player arrives under the radar and just goes about his business in an orderly manner that his performances cannot go unnoticed for too long.
Borja Valero Iglesias is one such player who has been the fulcrum of a Fiorentina side that has lit up Serie A with a brand of attacking football that could take the Viola all the way to snatching third place away from AC Milan.
The Tuscan club decided to make a fresh start in the summer following a tumultuous few seasons that had seen a number of coaches come and go and had witnessed towards the tail-end of last year, Delio Rossi physically attack his own player Adem Ljaijic during a match.
A sweeping clean of the old guard and the poisonous environment was needed so out went nearly the whole first-team squad and in came the up and coming Vincenzo Montella as coach and experienced transfer operator Daniele Pradè.
Looking around Europe for talented players who would fit into Montella’s attacking approach the club targeted Villarreal who had just been relegated from La Liga. From there, arrived Gonzalo Rodriguez for the defence and Borja Valero to dovetail with David Pizarro and Alberto Aquilani in midfield.
Initially, Montella was not impressed as he expected to have at least one “enforcer” in the middle of the pitch and when he first set eyes on the new arrival from Spain he was reported to have said “he doesn’t look as if he has the strength to tie his own laces …”
Not particularly tall at 5ft9ins and weighing in around 10st, the slightly-built Spaniard may lack the strength and pace expected of the modern midfielder but his sharpness comes from his reading of the game and the “soft feet” that Italians love in creative talents.
His short passing is precise and at times dazzling but he also has immense staying power to keep in constant motion throughout the full ninety minutes where his probing from the left-side in particular have opened up play to create scoring chances for the fleet-footed Ljaijic and Stevan Jovetic.
A goal at Lazio was an example of Borja Valero’s ability to think two or three moves ahead of anyone else as he raced to the edge of the area to receive a pass from Ljaijic only to dummy the ball to Jovetic who produced a well-taken finish.
Regardless of the opposition, Montella’s side attack from the back and when Pizarro was sidelined through injury it was the new man who dropped back to pick the ball up from one of the defenders but he has been much more effective further forward on the left. He may have only scored twice but he is the fifth overall in assists in the league, with 51 goal-creating passes while he has completed over 1,800 passes through the campaign.
At 28, Borja Valero has stated that he is more than content to remain in Florence and taste European football once more; be it in the Champions League or Europa League.
He has after all, had one stint in the Premier League with West Brom which ended with the Baggies relegation and a return to Mallorca and from there to Villarreal whom he helped qualify for the Champions League.
He has only won one cap for Spain and that came in a friendly against the USA back in 2011 but after his eye-catching displays for Fiorentina he may feel that his chances for a call-up to next summer’s World Cup finals are better served if he remains in Tuscany especially if the Viola were to land that final Champions League spot.