Aderlan Santos Beginning To Prove His Worth To Gary Neville’s Valencia

Aderlan Santos Valencia

When Aderlan Santos joined Valencia in the summer, he immediately wanted to inform the fans of his intentions to give everything for his new club.

“I am a battler and a warrior,” Santos told the club’s official radio station. “If I have to leave my skin out on the field I will do that. I am a warrior and will give every last drop of sweat for the cause. I hope to contribute to the team with my attitude.”

While this was an emphatic statement of intent from the former Braga star, the Valencia fans weren’t entirely convinced. They accordingly illustrated so in a fans’ poll by Superdeporte, which read that of the 2500 participants 91% of them didn’t believe Santos was a suitable replacement for Nicolas Otamendi, who’d just left for Manchester City.

With time, however, he’s slowly beginning to win the fans over. Despite having a few turbulent moments in the first half of the season, things have really started to pick up for him since the Barcelona game, where he was instrumental in helping his side keep a clean sheet against arguably the best frontline in world football.

And against the other giant of Spanish football, Real Madrid, the 26-year-old put in another massively encouraging shift at the heart of defence in Valencia’s gritty 2-2 draw.

Charged with the task of having to predominantly deal with Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo, who always loves to drift infield from the left, the Bats’ right sided centre-back dealt with these two dangermen admirably.

His cautious, sensible positioning ensured he never lost whomever he was marking, meaning he was never exposed courtesy of runs in behind. With Valencia defending compactly, keeping their defensive and midfield lines close together during Madrid’s slower, patient possession phases, whenever Benzema or Ronaldo dropped deep to receive, this ensured Santos didn’t have to leave his post, for he would just communicate to one of Valencia’s midfielders, usually Dani Parejo or Danilo, to take over the marking duties. By doing so, los Merengues’ attackers weren’t able to pull apart the Valencia backline as they pleased to create space for one another, which certainly limited the chances they were capable of conjuring.

Although his partnership with Aymen Abdennour is still in its infancy and the pair still have a few issues to deal with such as working on their spacing, the duo put in an utterly determined, resolute showing in the hard fought draw. Santos’ excellent ability to read the play meant he was regularly on hand to jet across and cover his Tunisian teammate if need be. Meanwhile, in terms of physicality, his decent pace, strength to outmuscle opponents, height (he stands at 1.93) and long limbs, which he uses effectively to stretch out and make crucial interventions, all combined to make him a hugely challenging obstacle to overcome for the multifaceted Madrid attacking unit.

In a match where the Brazilian successfully completed one tackle and made four clearances, while also blocking two shots, in a terrific all-round showing, he once again highlighted how well he can manage against top quality opposition.

Importantly, through his encouraging displays of late, he’s gained the trust of Gary Neville, who clearly sees him as a central figure to his plans. With every passing game, the fans are being won over too, after their earlier condemnation of the €7.5 million acquisition.

Santos won’t often grab the headlines, but you can rest assured the defensive warrior will always fight and give his all for his new club. And that’s precisely what the die-hard Valencia fans expect and appreciate.