“Banega is the most important player in the squad. He dictates the pace of the game, he gives assists, he organises the play from deep, he runs the game.”

Pretty big praise considering that this squad also contains Mata, Silva and Villa, all of whom have shown good performances this season. Banega’s addition to the list of Valencia’s key performers brings hope to the club – with him, Silva and Mata excelling in midfield Valencia have a midfield that could rival their title winning midfield with Baraja, Pablo Aimar and Vicente all suitably replaced. They also have the deadliest striker in the league. In essence, if Valencia had a better defence and goalkeeper then they would be real title contenders.

Their financial problems will complicate that though as they are more likely to sell important players than bring in essential defenders. Valencia have done well to hold out and only sell Raul Albiol so far but they cannot keep interest at bay forever with their debts as crippling as they are. Villa and Silva remain the talk of the tabloids but now they risk being usurped in those most wanted – Mata’s already being touted as a better prospect than Silva for a host of big clubs whilst plenty of clubs are looking up and realising what Banega is capable of and there will be plenty of interest in him from around Europe.

Linked with the likes of Stuttgart and Everton last summer after being deemed a failure in Spain, Banega has turned his career around. He’s matured remarkably in his time in Spain, though that change appears to have only taken place this summer, and with maturity a much better player has arrived. Banega was raw potential at Boca and now, at Valencia, he’s become the player they hoped he would – the deep-lying playmaker who controls midfield. Banega’s lift into grace is sure to attract lots of interest and now Valencia have another star to try to hold onto.

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