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Ex-West Brom flop should be top of Premier League shopping lists

Borja Valero has been instrumental in Fiorentina's recent success and admits he dreams of playing in England.

Spanish midfielder Borja Valero is a key reason for Fiorentina's renaissance but freely admits he dreams of a Premier League suitor, making him an ideal transfer target for England's giants.

The last time Valero arrived in England, it was fairly low-key. In 2008, he signed for West Brom and was whisked into action in a League Cup defeat against Hartlepool.

That ignominy was to set the tone for the Spaniard's stay. West Brom were relegated, Borja Valero never settled and he was soon back in the warmer climes of Mallorca and then Villarreal.

These days, Valero is not the same player who forlornly graced The Hawthorns, he has been transformed into a Serie A star.

A product of the Real Madrid youth system, Borja Valero never got a look in at first-team level and by the time he arrived at West Brom many felt he had already failed to fulfill his potential.

But Valero is a rarity - a player who keeps getting better as he gets older. A visionary playmaker equally comfortable on either foot who is also willing to scrap for his team, he may not always be as pretty to watch as the men who are keeping him out of the Spanish national team, but he can be equally effective.

Valero's style would fit in the Premier League. Granted he would need a transitional phase, but he's not a fragile diva unable to deal with the often over-stressed physicality of English football. In fact, given the right environment he'd be right at home.

Arguably Valero's greatest attribute is his consistency. At Fiorentina week in, week out, he turns in excellent performances and then quietly goes home often without the plaudits he deserves.

And it's the lack of fanfare plus a lack of international opportunities that has possibly prevented Europe's biggest clubs forming an orderly queue for Valero. 

In a recent interview, the 28-year-old disappointed Fiorentina fans by admitting that he still harbours a childhood dream of signing for a certain Premier League team he refused to name. Suffice to say it probably isn't West Brom.

While most top Premier League sides have become so ageist that a 28-year-old seems positively geriatric, they would be well advised to gamble on Valero. He looked burned out at 22 and is now one of Serie A's best players, who knows how good he'll be at 32?

image: © carca

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