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For the good of La Liga, Valencia CF back where they belong: Ex-captain Mendieta

IANS  |  New Delhi 

Former CF believes that the return of his former club to the top-five of the Spanish top division augurs well for the competitiveness of the

are placed comfortably in the fourth position in the 2017-18 with 53 points -- one point less than Real Madrid and seven behind second-placed Atletico Madrid.

They had finished 12th in both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons which saw them change as many as six coaches during a difficult phase.

This season, the Marcelino García Toral-coached outfit looks set to earn a place in the UEFA 2018-19.

"are having an amazing season. From the perspective of La Liga, it is great having back fighting in top-five," told IANS during his recent visit to

"They had difficult two seasons and really struggled. Luckily, they have found a way, good squad and a good project and they are back where we want them to see -- challenging for and competing with the top teams."

Mendieta, who captained to two consecutive runners-up finishes in 1999-00, 2000-01 seasons, said that the club may find it difficult to retain some of the impressive players of this season but has a project to do well in the future.

"system is working -- there is a good balance between young and experienced players. They have a project for the present and also for the future which is great for Valencia," he insisted.

"(But) for a player, it is difficult to say no when the offers arrive from Real Madrid and Opportunity is huge but it comes with a compromise, unless you are (Lionel) Messi or (Cristiano) Ronaldo, you are not going to play always.

"Other top-eight clubs -- the likes of Villarreal, Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla, Celta Vigo always bring young players to their academy, provide them the opportunity to grow and be ready for big clubs. It has been the system in over the eras."

For this season, though, FC are on top with 69 points -- eight more than second-placed Atletico. At the beginning of the season, the went through a difficult phase, seeing their Brazilian superstar leave for Paris Saint-Germain, who paid his 222 million euros release clause.

FC signed Ousmane Dembele (from Borussia Dortmund) in the summer but he has hardly played, thanks to injuries, while Brazilian attacking midfielder arrived in from in January -- both combined costing the club in excess of $300 million.

Talking about their transformations, gave the credit to new "He has done an amazing job. He allowed (left-back) to go more forward and (Andres) Iniesta to attack from left side (making up for the absence of Neymar).

"When you sell a like -- those kind of players are difficult to replace. But Valverde thought about the positives. At the moment, they are not missing But let the season end -- they will be judged depending on where they end at different competitions."

Mendieta, who played 40 times for the Spanish national team, is optimistic of winners' performance in the 2018 edition.

"After 2014 World Cup, we see a team talented, competitive, renewed with influx of young players. We can only be optimistic because seeing the way they played in the qualifying campaign, it is optimistic," he said.

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, March 09 2018. 18:02 IST