On Saturday, Matt wrote an article for the site stating that Borja Valero's move to Inter was all but done. Fiorentina had announced it and the player, in a roundabout way, had also announced it, so all we were really waiting for was an official announcement. That announcement has now arrived.
Thus, as of Tuesday afternoon, we can say it with absolute certainty: Inter have signed Borja Valero from Fiorentina. An official statement on the club website has confirmed it beyond any doubt.
"Borja Valero Iglesias is officially an Inter player following the completion of all contractual formalities", it begins. "The Spanish midfielder has penned a three-year deal with the club."
There is no mention of the fee that Inter will pay to Fiorentina for this deal, but pretty much all sources are agreed that it will be €5.5m plus €1m in add-ons. Not a bad deal, if you ask me.
"Borja was born in Madrid on 12 January 1985 and worked his way up through Real Madrid's academy sides before making two appearances for the first team in 2006, in the Copa del Rey and the Champions League.
The following summer he joined Mallorca and spent two seasons with the Balearic outfit, either side of a year in England with West Bromwich Albion.
It was in his second term at Mallorca (2009/10) that he really made his name, establishing himself as a key member of the team – with five goals in 33 appearances – that surprisingly finished fifth. His performances earned him the prestigious Don Balon award for best Spanish player in La Liga.
Villarreal snapped up his services at the end of the season. Over the next two years, Valero made 97 appearances and scored 11 goals for the Yellow Submarine, helping them reach the Europa League semi-finals.
Fiorentina brought him to Italy in 2012 and the Spaniard instantly became the fulcrum of the side, displaying exceptional technique and tactical intelligence and slotting comfortably into whatever midfield role he was put in. Valero racked up 212 games and 17 goals during his five-year spell in Florence, producing the third most assists in Serie A in the same period: 38 in 166 matches.
He turned out for Spain at U15, U17 and U19 level and scored the winning goal in the 2004 European U19 championship final against Turkey. His only appearance for the senior side came n 2011, in a 4-0 win against USA.
Welcome to Inter, Borja!"
As you can see from the picture on the left, Valero has opted to wear the number 20 shirt at Inter this season, which last season was worn by Trent Sainsbury. He sure doesn't lack courage does Borja, trying to fill those shoes. (Other players to have worn the no. 20 at Inter include Alvaro Recoba, Sulley Muntari and Joel Obi.)
The Spaniard completed a medical on Monday morning in Milan and is already present at Inter's summer training camp in Bruneck, having arrived with the rest of our first-team latecomers shortly after.
Valero becomes Inter's third first-team signing of the summer, following the arrivals of Torino goalkeeper Daniele Padelli and Sampdoria centre-back Milan Skriniar. It goes without saying that he will not be the last.
So what do you think? For what it's worth, I'm in agreement with Matt, who gave this appraisal of Borja on Saturday:
All-in-all, this is a solid pickup for the Nerazzurri. Valero provides nice maturity to help with Joao Mário and Roberto Gagliardini. He adds instant experience to a midfield that averages around 24 years of age. Valero plays in the center, but I think he is versatile enough to be an offensive and defensive option in the middle.
Put simply, Borja is the kind of player that we did not have and have needed for a very long time: a gorgeous ball-playing midfielder who makes everything more fluid. He's a fluidifier, if I can coin such a horrible term, and not since Thiago Motta have we had one of those if you ask me. The above video illustrates his qualities well - as does the one further up the article.
Bur friends over at Viola Nation can explain exactly what this means better than I can, so here's what they wrote a couple of weeks ago when Inter were first linked to the man they call 'Mayor'. This is what they are losing and what we are gaining:
I don’t need to tell you that, in footballing terms, this is a huge loss. Valero is notable for his formidable work rate, his versatility, and his willingness to track back. But more than anything, it’s his ability to move the ball quickly and unfussily from the center of the pitch into the attacking third that makes him special. He’s the archetypal “pass that leads to the key pass” playmaker. Fiorentina looked clueless, helpless, and hopeless without him this season, as the attack became very predictable and simple to snuff out; he’s probably been the club’s most important player for the past 4 years. Yes, he’ll turn 33 this year, but he’s still playing at a level unmatched by all but a handful of Serie A midfielders, and there’s no reason to think that he’s slipping. Selling him to a rival like Inter only makes it worse.
I can also thoroughly recommend their well-researched and highly serious follow-up article, highlighting all the pros and cons of selling him. Let's just say they're not too happy about it.
A-MAZ-ING! Fiorentina fans show their support for Borja Valero at his home as he & his wife come to the window! ⚜️pic.twitter.com/kamgREYHF9— Chloe Beresford (@ChloeJBeresford) July 5, 2017
As well as what he’ll bring, it's worth discussing why he's coming. The answer there is simple: Luciano Spalletti. This is 100% his signing. Spalletti made an express request for Borja Valero and Inter granted him his wish. He wanted to sign him at Roma last summer but at that moment in time a deal wasn't possible - this summer it was.
The reason our new head coach wanted Borja so badly is that he believes he is perfect for his style of play. Spalletti's brand of football is all about possession and dominating your opponent, as he has reiterated on so many occasions in the past, so it's vital that you have men in the middle that can keep the ball circulating.
Borja Valero: Only Marek Hamsik (397) has made more key passes than Valero (343) in Serie A since August 2012 pic.twitter.com/7UjvUwpig3— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 11, 2017
Here's what Luciano said about him on Sunday, after Inter's preseason friendly against WSG Wattens: "Borja is one of those players who has his own style and he imposes it on every game he plays in. He won’t change for Inter, he’ll be consistent. Having that type of player is very important for me. I know him well and I’m sure he will be appreciated by all Interisti."
Borja Valero for Fiorentina in Serie A last season:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 24, 2017
Most chances created (61)
Most assists (10)
Chief creator. pic.twitter.com/zvLIKNweow
As far as his position is concerned, I think he will play alongside Roberto Gagliardini in our 4-2-3-1 system. Spalletti tends to opt for more dynamic, physical players in the no. 10 role (such as Radja Nainggolan and Simone Perrotta - and, perhaps, Joao Mario), so I doubt Valero will play in that advanced midfield role behind Mauro Icardi.
There's also the fact that, to play in that position, you ideally need to contribute 8-10 goals per season, and Borja has never been a prolific goal-scorer. He only scored twice in all competitions for Fiorentina last season, and has never surpassed 7 goals during his five years in Italy - those who aren't crazy about this signing have been keen to point this out.
Overall I'm happy with this. He may be turning 33 in January but at €5.5m it still seems like good business, as Valero is the sort of player we have been crying out for since 2012 when Motta left. There's an enormous amount that Inter still need to do in this summer transfer window, but him and Skriniar seem like a decent start to me.
You can watch a clip from his first interview as an Interista below.