Scouting – A Matchless Fullback, Midfielder : José Luis Gayà

Welcome to the second episode of Goalden Times’ scouting series, The Next Big Thing. This time, we have selected José Luis Gayà, Valencia’s talented left back, who seems ready to take over the world in a few months.

José Luis Gayà Peña



José Luis Gayà is the name on every La Liga fan’s mouth, and you know the reason why. His highly impressive performances have got the football fans across the world hooked to his game. The 19-year old has not only successfully replaced Juan Bernat, but has been one of the best young left backs in the world this season.

Country : Spain
Date of birth : May 25, 1995
Club : Valencia C.F.
Position : Left back/Left Midfield
Squad Number : 31
National Team : Spain U17 to Spain U20

The Rise of José Luis Gayà

José Gayà began his season under Nuno Espírito Santo as the first choice left-back for Valencia C.F. He has proved his worth after Juan Bernat’s departure to Bayern Munchen in 2014. Gayà is the latest product of the Mestalla youth system which has produced big names like Jordi Alba and Juan Bernat, two former left-backs of the club. He has often been dubbed as ‘the new Roberto Carlos’, and, we can say that he has got enough potential to become one of the best left-backs of his generation, if not fill in the legend’s shoes.

Jose Gaya made it to the Valencia senior team at the tender age of 16, but was a reserve back then, Juan Bernat being the first choice left-back of the team. In September 2012, he was called up to the first-team squad for the first time by former youth and reserve manager Mauricio Pellegrino for a league fixture against Celta. Soon came his senior team debut in a Copa del Rey match against UE Llagostera the following month. He was blazing the grass for Spain national team as well and was fast-tracked to the U-20 level in the 2013 World Cup. Finally the lad earned his first La Liga appearance against Atletico Madrid last April.

His style of play, strengths and weaknesses

To begin with, he is a perfect wing back of this generation. He loves to spend his time in forward areas; can play as a defender as well as a midfielder; is adept at defending as well as possesses an eye for goal. With his tearing acceleration, he blazes the left flank to attack and drops down to defend with ease time and again throughout the course of any match. When you think of José Gayà, you can visualize a short young man, with abundant pace, taking over defenders and providing excellent crosses for the men upfront. His pace allows him to drop back into defence as well, which is very much needed for an attack minded left back like him. When Gayà dashes into overlaps, Valencia defence shifts to a back three, with their defensive midfielder Javi Fuego dropping down to defend, while the Argentine attacking midfielder Pablo Piatti cuts in. How good his overall impact and positional play has been can be proved by the following stats from this season:

  1. Among his teammates only Daniel Parejo and Enzo Pérez have been fouled more often than Gayà
  2. Only three players have provided more assists for Valencia CF than Gaya’s four so far
  3. He has racked up 69 successful dribbles so far this season, behind only André Gomes and Rodrigo among Valencia players.

One thing all adore about Gayà is his ball control. He has an immaculate first touch and like most Spanish fullbacks, tends to dribble both in and out down the flanks with the ball barely leaving his feet. His range of passing has also been superb with close to 80% completion rate so far.

His tackling is quite strong, and he can win the ball back quickly. On the other hand, he often ends up committing fouls; he is second to André Gomes only among his Valencia teammates this season. This habit of awarding free-kicks to the opposition in dangerous positions is something he can definitely improve upon in future and is likely to settle into him with some more experience. At such a tender age, defenders are prone to make mistakes. With the passage of time, they get over it. His main defensive weakness lies in his man marking and heading. As he doesn’t have the advantage of height, he often comes up short in aerial challenges.

It is clear that he is an excellent Mestalla material, with his own strengths and weaknesses – the former clearly outweighing the later. His major strength lies in his immaculate ball control, crossing and acceleration, which helps him make an impact going forward. The only things that may hold him back to a certain extent are aerial ability, man-marking and the rate at which he commits fouls.

We may conclude that it is just a matter of time before he becomes one of the best in the business. We just need to wait, as he can only get better.


Transfer rumours

José Gayà has been linked with European powerhouses like Real Madrid, Manchester City and Arsenal for some time now. With rumours spreading that Real Madrid want him, it will be hard to keep the talent to Mestalla.

Valencia executive President Amadeo Salvo has confirmed that Florentino Perez, Madrid President, has told him that he doesn’t want Gayà. Nuno Espirito Santo has concluded these to be paper talks and is quoted as saying “If the president said that Real Madrid don’t want to sign Gayà, then I believe him. Gayà is a Valencia C.F. player and is very happy at Valencia CF. We are delighted to have him here.”

Valencia and Argentina legend Mario Kempes had once commented that if Real Madrid were willing to make a generous offer for the rising star, they were likely to get him. Following the negative replies from Valencia fans, came his comments, “Valencianistas, my comments were personal and had nothing to do with my job with Valencia. I want Gayà to stay. I know that Valencia is going to make every effort to keep the player and that he wants to stay, that’s why I think he’ll stay”.

In the midst of all these rumours, Valencianistas hope that their hero boy will stay with them. To end the article, I pick Mario Kempes’ words:
“There’s not many fullback that can match him in Europe and we’re going to see him as a starter for Spain in no time. Amunt V!! “