As the UEFA Super Cup approaches, uefa.com examines the summer's developments at UEFA Cup winners Valencia CF.
It has been all change this summer for Spanish champions Valencia CF, with Rafael Benítez departing for Liverpool FC after a hugely successful three years at the club, facilitating the return of one of his predecessors at the Mestalla, Claudio Ranieri, to back for a second spell in charge.
Laid the foundations
The 52-year-old Italian was previously in charge of Valencia from 1997 until 1999 and has often been credited with laying the foundations that enabled direct successor Héctor Cúper to lead Valencia to the UEFA Champions League final in 2000 and 2001.
Something to prove
As he prepares for the UEFA Super Cup against FC Porto, Ranieri certainly has something to prove. Although he has won several domestic cups, championship titles have eluded him in Italy, Spain and England and the manner of his long-drawn out departure from Chelsea FC must have left something of a bitter taste.
Ranieri will hope that, back at a club he loves, his time has now come. "I have returned home, my heart has never left this club," he said. "I shared their sadness in the [UEFA] Champions League and their happiness in the UEFA Cup. I am grateful for the good squad that Rafa has left me, many of whom I know from my previous time here. I promise to work my hardest to keep the team at the top."
The Italian has brought with him four of his fellow countrymen to strengthen the squad including former Juventus FC striker Marco Di Vaio, S.S. Lazio duo Bernardo Corradi and Stefano Fiore and under-21 international Emiliano Moretti. Other new arrivals are Portuguese international defender Marco Caneira and French U21 goalkeeper Ludovic Butelle.
Even more importantly, the club seem to have succeeded in keeping hold of the lynchpins of their 2003/04 successes. Goalkeeper Santiago Cañizares, who conceded just 25 goals in 37 league matches last season, quashed rumours about his future by signing a new two-year contract, while defender Roberto Ayala is also still at the club, despite being linked with an array of top clubs across the continent.
Last season's top scorer Mista is another player to stay put, and seems to be relishing Ranieri's reign. "The boss has got a perfect approach and is really enthusiastic about the season," he said. "We all hope that the team remains successful and that the successes keep coming."
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