Prandelli deal sealed in Singapore

Cesare Prandelli (in blue) arriving at Forum The Shopping Mall with Luiz Felipe Scolari. Valencia executive director Anil Murthy (in orange) is behind them. They had dinner with Valencia owner Peter Lim yesterday.
Cesare Prandelli (in blue) arriving at Forum The Shopping Mall with Luiz Felipe Scolari. Valencia executive director Anil Murthy (in orange) is behind them. They had dinner with Valencia owner Peter Lim yesterday.ST PHOTO: DON CHI

Italian who favours expansive style gets Lim's nod to coach troubled Valencia

Newly-appointed Valencia coach Cesare Prandelli appears ready to start work following a clandestine meeting with his new boss in Singapore.

The Italian ended his whirlwind trip here yesterday with a stop at Forum The Shopping Mall along Orchard Road, where he is believed to have met club owner and Singapore billionaire Peter Lim for dinner.

The Straits Times understands Prandelli, 59, arrived in the morning and was here to finalise his contract with Lim, who has the final say over major decisions at the club he bought in 2014.

The Italian coach flew to Spain last night to begin work. The club could not be reached for comment.

However, the former Italy manager, who favours an expansive, possession-based style, told Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport earlier: "It's always been said that my style of play is a Spanish one. Now we will see.

"Their project seems serious, but please understand that I cannot say any more right now."

He faces a tall order as he bids to restore the six-time Spanish champions to their former glory.

Valencia, who reached the final of the Champions League in 2000 and 2001, have been in a slump since the appointment of Gary Neville last season.

The former England international left the club after a run of three wins in 16 league matches.

Former coach Pako Ayestaran took over with nine games remaining, guiding the team to a 12th-placed finish in La Liga.

But the Spaniard was sacked after a dismal start to this season, losing four consecutive league matches.

The team were not helped by a spate of key departures over the summer, including captain Shkodran Mustafi, midfielder Andre Gomes and striker Paco Alcacer - moves which had supporters up in arms. That said, the club's fortunes have improved since Ayestaran's exit.

Under caretaker coach Salvador Gonzalez, who is affectionately known as Voro, Los Che have won their last two league matches.

They are 15th in La Liga after six games - a point above the relegation zone.

Prandelli, whose last coaching stint was with Turkish club Galatasaray in 2014, brings with him a wealth of experience from a 26-year coaching career.

He counts Italian Serie A giants Roma and Fiorentina among his former teams.

The 2009 Serie A Coach of the Year also led his national team from 2010 to 2014.

He guided the Azzurri to the 2012 European Championship final, where they lost 0-4 to Spain.

He also has experience at smaller clubs, twice leading teams to promotion from Serie B - first with Verona in 1999, then Venezia in 2001.

Yesterday, Prandelli was accompanied by Guangzhou Evergrande coach Luiz Felipe Scolari and Valencia executive director Anil Murthy.

It is unclear why Scolari, the former Chelsea manager who also led Brazil to the 2002 World Cup, is in Singapore.

Valencia face third-placed Atletico Madrid at the Mestalla tomorrow but it is unclear if Prandelli will join Voro in the dugout.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2016, with the headline 'Prandelli deal sealed in Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe