Who is Carles Gil?
Well Carles Gil is Villa’s new midfielder signing from Valencia, according to trustworthy sources. A 22 year-old, left footed playmaker who’s also comfortable on both wings, he appears to be at least part of Lambert’s solution to the crippling lack of creativity in the Claret and Blue attack.
Gil has been on loan at La Liga strugglers Elche for the last two seasons (if the name seems familiar, Carlos ‘The Rock’ Sánchez came from there as well) where his performances were good, if not quite stand-out – an impressive first season saw 4 goals and 4 assists, decreasing to 1 goal and 2 assists last season with Elche´s promotion. However Gil seems to have a healthy sense of his own value and refused another loan, and his lack of playing time at Valencia has led to the Villa move seemingly by mutual agreement.
Villa´s offer, according to SuperDeporte, was 4.5 million euros, possibly rising to 6.5, with one million dependent on him reaching 20 appearances in his first year, one million on him appearing for the senior Spanish national team. (Don't worry, we did the maths for you - about £3.5 million, possibly rising to about £5 million) In addition, 10% of any future transfer fee goes to Valencia and they have the right to match the best future bid that Aston Villa receive and buy the player at that price.
Go full screen, Gil appears first at the end of the move beginning at 2.50 - number 22.
Since the Tonev debacle we all know the dangers of nice-looking YouTube videos. However for those looking for something to get excited about, this video of Valencia against Cordoba last September shows what he might offer, after he came on in the second half. There’s him messing up a goalscoring chance, but also putting in a wicked corner, a cross that should have been converted, pressing well and eventually providing an assist through the middle.
So what do the Spanish analysts make of him?
Well Martí Perarnau, the Spanish football journalist and author of Pep Confidential, a book on Pep Guardiola, wrote up a profile of him a year ago under the title ‘El Zurdo Travieso´ - roughly translated, ´The Lively Lefty´.
The opening sentence, ‘If we speak of Carles Gil, we speak of talent, of technical quality, of a distinct player who can make neutral fans excited to see an Elche match’, should arouse some interest – there aren't many Villa players we could currently talk about in the same way. He also refers to him as a natural central midfielder, with pure technical ability with good vision and understanding of the game. The picture is of an exciting talent to watch, with the traditional Spanish strengths of technical ability and ball control.
And what about the supporters?
Well the comments below the line at SuperDeporte and on Valencia forums betray slightly mixed feelings. His status as a ‘canterano’ (coming up through the ‘cantera’ – literally the ´quarry’ of the youth and reserve teams) is sensitive at a side that has seen some homegrown talents leave and become huge stars. Real Madrid midfielder Isco is the most notorious example, bought when Málaga activated his release clause for 6 million euros. Two years later he was sold for 30 million euros to Real Madrid.
For Villa fans who really want to get excited, some Valencia fans are comparing this transfer to Isco – but generally they´re saying ‘well he’s not exactly Isco’. There’s a general sense that he hasn´t really shined in his opportunities in the first team, with a lack of physical strength, a poor touch in front of goal and a tendency to pass backwards all being mentioned.
However several also comment that Valencia may regret a lack of patience in Gil´s case. He´s played eight times for Valencia this season, only once for the full 90 minutes, with one goal and one assist. There’s a sense that he hasn´t really been given the time and faith to show his potential, and is a player who needs to feel he is valued. With the move freeing Valencia to make another transfer in the window after having previously hit their Financial Fair Play limits, Gil was clearly viewed as surplus to requirements. Valencia fans who regret his transfer also mention that he’s not been played in his preferred central position.
Does this move make sense for Villa?
Absolutely – so long as he comes straight into the first team. Gil might not quite be good enough for Valencia, but frankly we aren´t anywhere near that level right now either. And in terms of his strengths - crossing, control of the ball, creative vision – he fills a huge gap in this Villa side. We might also ask for great physique and a deadly touch in front of goal, but not for the money we’re paying.
Ideally he would come into the central midfield but he could go on either wing and probably be an instant upgrade as well. If Delph goes this window, Villa still need another winger (which may be why the Sinclair deal appears to be rumbling on) but this move would definitely be a step in the right direction. It’s a risk, as is always the case trying to get a bargain, but a risk that makes sense.
Of course, that’s totally dependent on him getting time on the pitch. It’s very clear that he’s coming to us because he was unhappy with a lack of playing time at Valencia and that his problems there had a lot to do with an inability to be an instant success. Keeping this 22 year old behind Joe Cole and Charles N’Zogbia would be the surest way to instantly crush any optimism and energy he brings to the team. Spanish playmakers of the quality of David Silva have suffered slow starts to their life in the Premier League and he can hardly make Villa’s performances any worse. This time Paul Lambert needs to show faith in his signing.
And how do you pronounce his name?
I don’t know why you’re bothering as commentators and pundits will be getting it wrong for the rest of the season, but ‘Carles’ is much as you might expect and the ‘Gil’ is pronounced somewhere between ‘hill’ and ‘heel’, with a little more...you know what, just watch the video below:
(Not my video, I should point out - all credit to EmmaSaying on YouTube, which I heartily recommend for any words you need to pronounce)