In recent years, Valencia CF has often been seen as one of many dormant giants in Spanish football, however, a new owner, a revitalised squad and one of the rising stars of Spanish football has seen the Valencian phoenix rise from the ashes so far this season.
As the economic crisis of 2008 ravaged through Europe and embroiled many football clubs as well as Valencia in financial turmoil, doubt arose as to whether the club with an estimated 400 million Euros worth of debt would ever reach the heights of previous years. Quick fire sales of star players including David Villa, Juan Mata and Roberto Soldado left holes in the Valencia starting line up that needed to be plugged. One young man from Torrent has done just that. Francisco ‘Paco’ Alcácer.
Following the sale of Roberto Soldado, the club’s top goal scorer the previous season, before the beginning of the 2013/2014 season, Valencia were left with a huge gap in their attack. Their financial frailty led them to acquire journeyman, and far from prolific goalscorer, Hélder Postiga to a squad with very few striking options.
Coming from the famed Valencia academy that has produced such players as David Silva, Jordi Alba and most recently Juan Bernat, local boy Alcácer broke through in the absence of a superstar striker managing to feature in 23 games for Los Che in La Liga during the 2013/2014 season, firing in six goals in the process.
It was in that season’s Europa League that Paco Alcácer really showcased his talent. Finishing as the tournament’s second highest scorer with seven goals, Alcácer was pivotal in Valencia’s run to the semi finals of the competition showcasing a wide variety of skills, most notably his finishing prowess, movement off the ball and turn of pace which all culminated in a match winning hat trick in the quarter final second leg against FC Basel.
Despite elimination from the tournament in the next phase and a disappointing eighth place finish by Valencia in La Liga, Alcácer’s star was on the rise.
Young Paco would benefit from a summer of fortune. In May of 2014 an offer was made by Singaporean business man Peter Lim to buy 70.4% of the share in Valencia CF, making him the new owner of the club. Lim offered the club a light at the end of the tunnel and the dawning of a new era after numerous years of barren finances. The club’s stability and the potential to compete with teams at the highest level could only mean opportunity for the young Spaniard.
The change in his club’s situation was only enhanced by the situation taking place at international level. Spain’s extremely premature exit at the group stages from the World Cup in Brazil came with calls to hasten the regeneration of the Spanish national team and, therefore, the blooding of new players, Alcácer being one of them.
In a team recently famed for playing without a main striker, and with many top level Spanish strikers being left by the wayside at international level, Alcácer was handed his debut five days after his 21st birthday coming on as a substitute for Diego Costa in the friendly defeat to France.
An injured Costa hastened Paco’s ascent to the starting eleven as he started the Euro 2016 qualifying game against Macedonia, scoring his first senior international goal in the 17th minute and assisting Sergio Busquets for the following in the 5-1 rout.
Alcácer’s rich vein of form has only continued into this season, wearing the number 9 shirt, he has already managed four goals and four assists in the first seven games. His clinical nature in front of goal and ability to bring others into play have left Valencia sitting pretty in second place, two point behind leaders Barcelona, as we enter the second international break of the season.
This, however, won’t be a break for young Alcácer who has received another call up to the Spanish national team, alongside Valencia teammate Rodrigo. With games against Slovakia and Luxembourg, there may be even more chance for Alcácer to showcase his talent on the international stage and open the door to a whole world of prosperity that is currently lying at the young boy from Torrent’s feet.