Two in on loan

Valencia yesterday confirmed the arrival of two new faces on loan as they look to continue to bolster their first team squad ahead of the kick off against Real Betis in La Liga in just one week’s time. First through the door is Croatian under-21 centre-half Boško Šutalo, who joins on a season long loan from Italian side Atalanta. The 20 year old, who can also play full-back, originally broke through the ranks at Croatian club NK Osijek, featuring for the 2nd string before eventually making his debut back in October 2018, in a 4-1 victory over NK Rudeš. Less than a year later he was also featuring in European competition, as he started in the Europa League qualification round against CSKA Sofia in summer 2019.

In total, Šutalo made 12 league appearances his first season with the first team squad, then another 16 during the 2019-20 season, before eventually sealing a move to Serie A side Atalanta in January 2020, for a fee of around €5 million. Making his debut in July 2020 in a 2-0 win against Napoli, he would go on to feature 6 more times during the remainder of the season with his new club. Despite this, the Bergamo based club were still willing to allow him to head out on loan this season, in a bid to aid his development and gain more experience, and with Valencia having restricted funds with which to build a competitive squad, the Spanish side felt this would be a great opportunity to bring in an extremely promising young defender with no real financial outlay for the club, other than picking up the players’ wages during his time in La Liga.

Šutalo: Talented young defender joins on loan from Atalanta for the season

Joining him at the club is exciting Arsenal youngster Emile Smith Rowe, who has also agreed to sign for Los Che for the coming season. Also 20, the England youth star can play across the middle and as well as further forward, offering his new club plenty of versatility when it comes to squad depth. London born, Smith Rowe began his career with the London club, initially signing for the academy back in 2010, at the tender age of just 10 years old. Since then, he has continued to develop through the ranks, pushing on to become a regular fixture for the Under-23s side, before eventually gaining initial first team recognition during a pre-season tournament, scoring his first goal in a 1-1 draw against Atlético Madrid while just 17 years old. He also featured against PSG, where he claimed an assist in a 5-1 thumping, on his 18th birthday.

There was no surprise to see Smith Rowe eventually making his competitive debut with the club, his first appearance coming off the bench as a second half substitute against Vorskla Poltava in the Europa League, which incidentally was the first professional debut from a millennial at the London club. He was handed a start in the next Europa league game, this time away against Qarabag, and duly scored in a 3-0 victory, becoming the youngster scorer for Arsenal since Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and once again the first millennial to score for the Gunners. His first goal at the Emirates came against Blackpool as he starred in a 2-1 victory in the EFL Cup. In total he would make 6 appearances, scoring 3 times during his breakthrough season, before then heading off to Germany for the remainder of the 2018-19 campaign, joining RB Leipzig on a 6 month loan deal. After still suffering a groin injury on his arrival, he would make just 4 appearances in the Bundesliga during his time with the club.

The beginning of last season saw Smith Rowe once again in and around the first team set up at the Emirates, making 6 appearances in all competitions, before once again heading out on loan, this time dropping down a division to join English Championship side Huddersfield Town. Despite the former Premier League club’s troubles, which would eventually see the manager who brought him in sacked, Smith Rowe managed 19 appearances and 2 goals during his time in West Yorkshire, a spell which was considered a success given the environment.

With Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta keen to see Smith Rowe continue his development with more European experience, the youngster was again made available for loan for the coming season, which initially alerted Valencia to the prospect of bringing him in. Having featured for his country at every level from Under 16’s to Under 20’s to date, including being a part of the impressive England U-17 side that won the World Cup and finished runner-up in the European Championships, and again with the club only forced to pick up the cost of his wages, it was again a deal that represented fantastic value for the Spanish side. Smith Rowe will be expected to feature heavily during the course of the season, in a large part due to his versality where he can provide cover and options on both wings alongside his preferred position in the centre.

Smith Rowe: Exciting Arsenal youngster follows Šutalo into club

With just a week until kick-off, the Spanish side look set to continue scouring the market for more new faces ahead of the new campaign, although one name who now looks set not to join is promising Dutch centre half Timo Zaal. The 16 year old rookie, who is currently on the books of Heerenveen, was rumoured to be the subject of several bids from Valencia prior to the arrival of Šutalo, although it appears both parties were vastly apart in their valuation of the youngster, who has yet to make his professional debut for the Eredivisie side, where he is currently a part of the Under-19s set-up. While Valencia may look to revisit this deal if further funds become available, the loan capture of Sutalo is likely to mean that any available money will now be used elsewhere on the pitch, with the club still thought to be keen to bring in another attacking option, although that could ultimately depend on the potential departure of transfer listed Rubén Sobrino.

Zaal: Barlow confirms any deal for the young Dutch defender now unlikely
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Massive technology geek Former runner looking to rediscover two working knees Ex Personal trainer currently looking to escape self imposed fitness exile Manchester City season ticket holder until 1998 & again from 2002 to present Atlético Madrid season ticket holder 1999-2001 & still follow from afar Love creative writing, and former journalist for Opta Soccer, Planetfootball & Sky Sports Former games tester, researcher and designer for Gremlin Interactive, Infogrames & Dinamic Multimedia

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