The Ecuadorian striker could reach the biancocelesti, wanted by Marcelo Bielsa. The about-face of the Argentine coach changed everything
After 54 appearances and 8 goals in two Premier League years, West Ham had decided to unload Enner Valencia. The man who a few days ago we saw shatter the dreams of the Qatar hosts in the opening match of the World Cup has been the symbol of Ecuador for some seasons now, of which he is the proud captain and cover man. Six years ago, with the for sale sign placed on his head by the Hammers’ management, he was one step away from Lazio. And it is thanks to the complexity of that negotiation that today the Biancocelesti fans have crowned a new king: from the problems with West Ham, in fact, the Lazio management was convinced to lay the foundations for another deal. As strange as it may seem, Lazio’s plan B then turned into the most prolific striker in the club’s history: that plan B, in fact, was Ciro Immobile. To recount that negotiation and the particular character who responds to the name of Enner Valencia, in these days mainly explored through the chronicle of the daring escape on a stretcher during an Ecuador-Chile match in which he had simulated an injury to leave the field and avoid arrest for a bad story of unpaid alimony to his wife, one has to rewind the tape to 2014.
In fact, Valencia is one of those names that come to mind every four years: lost sight of between one World Cup and another, then suddenly rediscovered. Between Brasilia and Curitiba, against Switzerland and Honduras, Valencia scored three goals. They weren’t enough for the “Tri” to reach the second round, but together with the 18 made with Pachuca in the previous season they had aroused the interest of West Ham, who had brought him to London by paying out around fifteen million pounds. Two years followed between a few highs and many lows: a little winger, a little centre-forward, a little bit of everything without ever really being something well defined. In the confused days of July 2016, he therefore found himself one step away from Lazio. The main reason for this negotiation bore the name of Marcelo Bielsa, the man chosen by Claudio Lotito and Igli Tare to lead the Capitoline: Valencia was at the top of Loco’s list, which from Ecuador declared itself happy with the prospect (“I’m thrilled that a great coach like Bielsa appreciated my work”) and ready to land in Italy. Phrases spoken a couple of hours before the explosion of the Bielsa case, the incredible about-face of the Argentine coach and the consequent relaunch of Simone Inzaghi as Lazio coach: in one fell swoop goodbye not only to Bielsa but also to Valencia and green light to all arrival of a property seeking redemption after disappointing experiences abroad. This is how Enner’s wanderings also began, placed at Everton on a loan without too many hopes, the photograph of those deals concluded in a hurry on August 31st, when there is a box to fill with the clock running and money running low . After the flop at the Toffees he hadn’t been redeemed and had ended up at Tigres, Mexico, in that mystical football territory that for some years had already become the new home of André-Pierre Gignac, who had risen to the role of demigod of the auriazules.
What could have been a golden exile turned out to be a springboard towards a return to Europe, to Fenerbahçe, with two decent seasons and the show scorer of the first part of this strange 2022-23: 13 goals and 4 assists in 12 appearances, figures from Haaland without having theappeal. After a September friendly against Saudi Arabia, he was fiercely criticized for a few missed goals. Against Qatar, on the other hand, he was surgical: he became Ecuador’s best scorer in the history of the World Cup, he seems serene and happy. He also has custody of her daughter: his ex-wife, Sintia Pinargote, was arrested in Hollywood in 2019 for having abandoned her little girl in the car to go play at the casino with her new boyfriend. Who knows if Immobile ever offered him a coffee..