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Greed erodes everything from within Scouting Javi Guerra – Valencia’s key to revival.

Greed can erode everything from within, and unfortunately, this seems to have happened to Valencia. The club is now a shadow of its former self, having lost its identity and the ability to compete at the highest levels of soccer. This decline coincides with Peter Lim’s 10-year leadership of the club, during which time the ownership has been accused of nepotism and favoritism. Valencia was once a constant challenger for a spot in the top four of LaLiga, but now the fans have little hope for the team’s future. However, there is a glimmer of hope in the form of a young midfielder named Javi Guerra, who has emerged as a star for the team. Despite the club’s troubles, Javi Guerra has given the fans something to cheer about.

Javi-Guerra-position

PLAYER PROFILE:

Name: Javier Guerra
Position: Central Midfielder
Age: 20
Preferred Foot: Right
Current Club: Valencia CF

A RAY OF LIGHT IN THE DAUNTING DARKNESS:

Valencia’s issues off the pitch unfortunately have found their way onto the turf as well. After Covid, the club has struggled to generate funds, and as a result, the club has sold many key players. In the midst of chaos, Valencia’s management had to turn to the academy, and Javier Guerra emerged.

Guerra’s adaptability in the middle has been key in his rising importance to Ruben Baraja. The Spanish gaffer has effectively used Guerra’s profile and deployed him across several positions in the midfield. When deployed in a more advanced position, the 20-year-old looks to attack the box with the intention of scoring, while he looks to create opportunities for the strikers when deployed out wide in a 4-man midfield. When deployed in the middle of the 4-man midfield, the Valencian attempts to satisfy his insatiable hunger of taking on players to progress the ball. This is where Guerra has thrived and delivered some of his best performances as well.

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His goal against Atletico Madrid in September earlier in the season came from this position, too. Receiving the ball from Thierry Correia at the cusp of zone 11, Guerra swiftly progressed with the ball into zone 14 despite receiving the ball with his weaker foot. Atletico looked to close him down at the edge of the box. With multiple defenders converging on him, Javi used his intelligence to feign a shot with his weaker foot, before switching the ball to the right and scoring a peach of a goal from outside the box. The goal was a result of the freedom the central role offers him to combine his best qualities.

GUERRA’S GAMBIT: THE VALENCIAN IN POSSESSION

JAVI GUERRA – POSITIONING + MOVEMENT:

Javier ‘Javi’ Guerra was built playing in the tiny streets of Gilet. Those weekends spent trying to dribble past friends on a hot sunny day shaped the youngster’s game. So, it isn’t a surprise that Guerra thrives in tight spaces on the football pitch.

Javi-Guerra-Heatmap
Javi Guerras LaLiga Heatmap in the 2324 campaign

A glance at the academy graduate’s heatmap reveals his importance to the club in the initial phase of the build-up. Guerra often drops deep to connect with his center backs. As he looks to progress with the ball, Javi utilizes his physicality and agility to turn away from opponents and move forward. The Spaniard has progressively become more and more press resistant.

Once Javi progresses the ball and plays it off, he makes his way into the half spaces near the edge of the box. With him, he pulls a couple of midfielders as well, breaking the compact lines of teams in La Liga. If players don’t follow him, the youngster settles in dangerous spaces between two lines waiting to receive the ball and turn. Javi rarely enters the box, but the youngster does tend to receive the ball near zone 14 and take shots.

JAVI GUERRA – PASSING + CREATIVITY:

Throughout the 23/24 campaign, Valencia has heavily relied on Javi to progress the ball through his ability to take on players. His slender physique and spatial awareness enable him to escape challenges with relative ease, despite being rather slow.  This season, the youngster has averaged an impressive 1.64 successful take-ons p90, ranking him in the 88th percentile of the stat in LaLiga. His ventures forward on the ball have also resulted in 1.58 progressive carries p90 into the attacking third.

While his ability to advance the ball has been on display all season, Ruben Baraja’s system has made it hard for the youngster to showcase his passing abilities. Guerra has averaged a meagre 32.47 passes attempted p90 in LaLiga this season and boasts only a 73.35% pass completion rate. Till now, his passing has earned him one assist all season while resulting in 1.81 SCA p90. The numbers might lead a few to make quick judgements, but at 20, Guerra has a lot of time to improve in this department.

JAVI GUERRA – SHOOTING:

A midfield barren of goals almost led Valencia to being relegated last season. That was until a screamer from the midfield by a 19-year-old Javi Guerra saved the club from an eventual drop into the second division of Spanish football. Now a year older, the youngster has made it a habit of scoring these goals. This season, the academy graduate has already bagged 4 goals from midfield. Guerra has averaged 1.41 shots per 90 while his average shot distance has been 24.2 yards. Like Saul to Walter White in Breaking Bad, Guerra has been to Valencia when they’ve been in dire need of a goal in LaLiga. Clutch.

 OUT OF POSSESSION: JAVI GUERRA DEFENSIVE DUTIES

Given the structure of Ruben Baraja’s Valencia, Los Che spend a considerable amount of time out of possession. Baraja expects his squad to defend in a compact mid-block, leaving Javi with substantial defensive duties. However, the youngster has held his own in the midfield and often puts in long shifts to help Valencia’s backline.

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In the 23/24 campaign, Guerra has averaged 2.21 tackles + interceptions p90 exhibiting his defensive awareness. The 20-year-old also averages 6.10 recoveries per game further highlighting his high defensive work rate. A real gem in the heart of the midfield for Los Che.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? A FUTURE AWAY FROM HOMELAND BECKONS GUERRA

An academy graduate, Javi Guerra breathes the colors of Valencia. In perhaps the darkest hour for Los Che, the Valencian seems unwavering in his resolve to restore the club of his dreams to the pinnacle of Spanish football where it once belonged. However, his recent performances in midfield have ensured a skyrocketing price tag as the end of the season beckons. The club might be attracted to a big offer if one arrives in the summer, but for Guerra and the faithful fans of the club, his continuation at the club could result in a bright future. For now, remember the uncut gem, Javi Guerra.

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