Football Features

Valencia: Experts at ‘flipping’ top players in the transfer market

By Oliver Young-Myles

Published: 17:42, 12 July 2020

When it comes to selling players, certain clubs are experts at manipulating the transfer market for their advantage by finding a way to sell their prized assets for maximum profit.

Valencia are a prime example of this. Fans frustrated with current owner Peter Lim – and also former head coach Marcelino, who was sacked before he could quit over a lack of investment early into the current season – would probably have hoped it was the other way round. But even going back beyond Lim’s 2014 takeover, over the past couple of decades in particular Valencia have raised hundreds of millions of pounds from player sales.

And you can make a pretty decent combined XI of players ‘flipped’ (i.e. bought or developed and sold on at a profit) by Valencia to demonstrate as much.


Here are the details behind theirs and other such transfers since 2000 that secured an impressive profit for the La Liga club.

1. Claudio Lopez

  • Signed from: Racing Club (1996)
  • Fee: Free
  • Sold to: Lazio (2000)
  • Fee: £19.55m
  • Profit: £19.55m

Argentine forward Claudio Lopez moved to Italy following four fruitful years in Spain in the same summer that Valencia also sold Gerard to Barcelona and Francisco Farinos to Inter.

Los Che were able to impressively revamp their side, though, to make a huge impact during the following season’s Champions League.

2. Gaizka Mendieta

  • Signed from: CD Castellon (1992)
  • Fee: £150k
  • Sold to: Lazio
  • Fee: £25m
  • Profit: £24.9m

The star and leader of the Valencia side that reached consecutive Champions League finals under Hector Cuper at the turn of the century. Gaizka Mendieta was a wonderfully gifted creative midfielder who encapsulated all that was good about that side.

But as we all know, money talks and when Lazio offered £25m for his services, Valencia couldn’t say no. Unlike most of those on this list, though, Mendieta was never able to recapture his greatest form after leaving.

3. Raul Albiol

  • Signed from: Academy
  • Fee: N/A
  • Sold to: Real Madrid (2009)
  • Fee: £12.8m
  • Profit: £12.8m

Following one season honing his skills in Valencia’s B team, Raul Albiol was parachuted straight into the heart of the first team’s back four, a position that he retained for the next five years.

In 2009, probably in an attempt to redress the balance after signing Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Karim Benzema, Real Madrid’s president Florentino Perez snapped up Albiol to bolster their defence.

Albiol left the Bernabeu after four seasons to join Serie A side Napoli, where he lasted six seasons before returning to Spain with Villarreal.

4. David Silva

  • Signed from: Academy
  • Fee: N/A
  • Sold to: Manchester City (2010)
  • Fee: £24.4m
  • Profit: £24.4m

One of many academy graduates to make Valencia a pretty penny is David Silva, whose mesmerising displays in midfield convinced Roberto Mancini to make him a part of his Manchester City revolution in 2010.

By that point, Silva had already won the European Championships and World Cup with Spain but, with Valencia drowning in debt, he decided to move to England in search of trophy success at club level. A decision that has worked out quite well.

5. David Villa

  • Signed from: Real Zaragoza (2005)
  • Fee: £10.2m
  • Sold to: Barcelona (2010)
  • Fee: £34m
  • Profit: £23.8m

While David Villa was a highly regarded striker in La Liga, his Valencia transfer proved the catalyst for his transformation from ‘very good’ to ‘world-class’.

Despite Valencia being in a transitional phase for much of his five years at the club, Villa just kept putting the ball into the back of the net, ending up with 129 goals in 225 games. It is form which culminated in a move to Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in 2010.

6. Juan Mata

  • Signed from: Real Madrid (2007)
  • Fee: Free
  • Sold to: Chelsea (2011)
  • Fee: £22.7m
  • Profit: £22.7m

Although Valencia were once considered a title rival by Real Madrid and Barcelona, Spain’s big two have frequently been willing to do business with Los Che.

Juan Mata joined from a Galactico-filled squad in the capital and immediately forced his way into the first-team reckoning at the Mestalla.

Following four excellent campaigns, he secured a move to the Premier League by joining Chelsea. Despite winning the club’s Player of the Year award in 2011/12 and 2012/13, Mata was eventually frozen out by Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge and left for Manchester United in 2014.

7. Jordi Alba

  • Signed from: Barcelona (2005)
  • Fee: Free
  • Sold to: Barcelona (2012)
  • Fee: £11.9m
  • Profit: £11.9m

Barcelona’s much-vaunted La Masia academy is the envy of just about every major club in Europe due to the continual quality they have streaming through their youth teams and into the senior set-up.

Strangely, though, the staff at the Camp Nou clearly didn’t think too much of Jordi Alba, allowing him to join Valencia for free in 2005. Just over seven years later the Catalan club saw the error of their ways, re-signing the marauding left-back after his star turn at Euro 2012.

8. Roberto Soldado

  • Signed from: Getafe (2010)
  • Fee: £8.5m
  • Sold to: Tottenham (2013)
  • Fee: £25.5m
  • Profit: £17m

Roberto Soldado was handed the unenviable task of replacing Villa’s goals in 2010 following his move to Barcelona and it is fair to say he did a pretty good job of doing so.

During his three years at Valencia, Soldado emerged as one of the most feared strikers on the continent after plundering 81 goals in 141 games to secure a mega-money move to Tottenham. The less said about that transfer, however, the better.

9. Juan Bernat

  • Signed from: Academy
  • Fee: N/A
  • Sold to: Bayern Munich (2014)
  • Fee: £8.5m
  • Profit: £8.5m

Valencia’s scouting team deserve a pat on the back for unearthing talented players across the globe, but their academy coaches also warrant praise for honing the skills of talented youngsters too.

Plenty of Valencia academy graduates have departed for big fees with the forward-thinking left-back Juan Bernat the most recent, high-profile example.

10. Jeremy Mathieu

  • Signed from: Toulouse (2009)
  • Fee: Free
  • Sold to: Barcelona (2014)
  • Fee: £17m
  • Profit: £17m

Now, this is how it’s done. Sign someone on a free transfer, get five good years of service and then sell them on for £17m when their ability is starting to decline.

Barcelona’s decision to shell out just south of £20m for a defender the wrong side of 30 was seen as a surprise at the time but we doubt Valencia would have been too bothered.

11. Paco Alcacer

  • Signed from: Academy
  • Fee: N/A
  • Sold to: Barcelona (2016)
  • Fee: £26.5m
  • Profit: £26.5m

Another great one from Los Che. Paco Alcacer was a youth product and banged them in for the Mestalla club before ultimately being shipped off to Barcelona.

He scored 43 in 124 games before making the move to Camp Nou, where he managed 15 in 50. After a fruitful spell with Borussia Dortmund, Alcacer now turns out for Villarreal.

12. Nicolas Otamendi

  • Signed from: Porto (2014)
  • Fee: £10.2m
  • Sold to: Manchester City (2015)
  • Fee: £37.9m
  • Profit: £27.7m

It is no secret that English teams are awash with money these days and Valencia are a club who have profited from that down the years, particularly when selling Nicolas Otamendi to Manchester City in 2015.

The Argentine centre-back only spent one full campaign with the La Liga side, but so good were his performances City decided to part with a sizeable amount to lure him to Manchester.

13. Andre Gomes

  • Signed from: Benfica (2015)
  • Fee: £17m
  • Sold to: Barcelona (2016)
  • Fee: £29.8m
  • Profit: £12.8m

Valencia have cherry-picked talent from the Portuguese Primeira Liga regularly in recent seasons and arguably their finest acquisition from the neighbouring country is the classy midfielder, Andre Gomes.

Although Los Che suffered a horrible 2015/16 season, Gomes demonstrated his quality on numerous occasions and after just one year he earned a move to the reigning league champions, Barcelona. That move almost derailed Gomes’ career with a loss of form and confidence making him look a shell of the player he once was. However, he’s recovering well at Everton.

14. Shkodran Mustafi

  • Signed from: Sampdoria (2014)
  • Fee: £6.8m
  • Sold to: Arsenal (2016)
  • Fee: £34.9m
  • Profit: £28.1m

Bizarrely released by Everton in 2012 after just one solitary first-team appearance, Shkodran Mustafi moved to Italian football to sign for Sampdoria and his form there resulted in a transfer to Valencia two years later.

The 2014 World Cup winner excelled in La Liga for a further two seasons before completing a lucrative move back to English football to sign for Arsenal.

15. Neto

  • Signed from: Juventus
  • Fee: £6.2m (2017)
  • Sold to: Barcelona (2019)
  • Fee: £23.1m
  • Profit: £16.9m (sort of)

This one is more complicated, because Neto was sold by Valencia to Barcelona as part of a goalkeeper-plus-cash swap deal for Jasper Cillessen worth £31m overall. And it was Valencia who stumped up the extra cash.

Regardless, Neto was traded at a much higher value than the initial fee Valencia paid to sign him from Juventus in 2019 and, according to reports, head coach at the time Marcelino was about to demote him to the bench anyway.

Marcelino was sacked just three games into the current season, despite the two top-four finishes and Copa del Rey win on his record with Valencia, meaning the coast is clear for Neto to return, a transfer rumoured to be in the offing because buying Cillessen has not gone well.

16. Joao Cancelo

  • Signed from: Benfica (2014)
  • Fee: £13.5m
  • Sold to: Juventus (2018)
  • Fee: £36m
  • Profit: £22.5m

Cancelo initially joined Valencia on loan from Benfica in 2014 but after impressing during his early performances at the club, his transfer was quickly made permanent at a cost of £13.5m.

The Portugal international was a fantastic attacking presence at right-back across his next two full seasons with Valencia and did enough to earn a £36m move to Italian champions Juventus in 2018. Just a year later, he was off to Manchester City with the Citizens shelling out £27.4m and Brazilian full-back Danilo to secure his services.