Who is Carlos Soler? Probably, this is the first question that will come to your mind if you are not an adept of La Liga nor a Valencia supporter.
Carlos Soler was born in Valencia, Spain; in January 1997. He joined the Valencia CF Academy when he was only seven years old, scoring more than 500 goals for the Valencia Academy. He has worked his way through the Valencia youth system until making his debut for the 1st team on the 10th of December 2016 against Real Sociedad, playing 12 minutes in the game which Valencia lost 3-2.
Cesare Prandelli was the Head Coach who made possible his debut for the 1st team but nothing changed after Prandelli’s resignation a few days later after Soler’s debut because Salvador “Voro” Gonzalez kept the youngster in the squad during the remaining of the 2016-17 La Liga season.
Soler is a right footed midfielder who can play as right/left midfielder, attacking midfielder or centre midfielder as seen during last season under “Voro” Gonzalez’s commands where Valencia CF used a 4-2-3-1 formation. He played 23 matches (19 in the starting lineup) for Valencia CF in the 2016-17 La Liga season.
He has played for the U19s and U21s Spanish national teams, being part of the squad who reached the final of the Under21 Euro Championship losing against Germany, 1-0.
His spatial awareness makes him a difficult player to stop in 1v1, 1v2 or even 1v3 situations. Soler is constantly scanning the area to find space to escape from congested areas and his change of pace after dribbling past the opposition lets him gain enough time to execute his passes under less pressure. He possesses a good toolbox of skills to pass defenders. In this video, you will watch how it seems like he has eyes on his neck.
He is a smart, creative and composed player; his distribution is very good, capable of making long and short passes with either foot. Great decision making combined with a superb quality to find team mates into feet or into space in dangerous positions of the pitch. As you will see in the following video, due to his amazing vision, he only needs one touch to make the right pass into the right area at the right time.
In addition to his spatial awareness and vision, he also owns excellent movement off the ball and a great positional play where you can see him making good runs to break lines and receive into space or constantly moving into areas to support his team mates and move Valencia CF forward. Some of the clips in the last video showed good examples of how great he is on linking up plays in different areas of the pitch.
His pass success percentage (PS%) during the 23 matches he played for Valencia was very impressive, 86.1%, especially if we compare his number to some of the best midfielders in La Liga. Dani Parejo’s PS% was 86.5%; Barça players like Iniesta (88.9%), Rakitic (85.8%) and Busquets (89.9%); Real Madrid players like Kroos (92.2%), Modric (89.1%) and Casemiro (85.6%).
His goal contribution was not great but he scored 3 goals during the last season, showing his ability to finish with both feet as you will see in the following footage.
On the first clip in the video, you can notice how Soler changes his pace to lose his marker and how well he times his run to finish with a left footed crossed shot. On the second clip, Soler starts his run just after Parejo takes the free kick to anticipate any possible rebound.
I have talked about all his attacking attributes and without a doubt we are in front of a very complete and entertaining player but as a midfielder it is not only about attacking, you also need to defend and help your team mates to recover possession.
That’s the area of major developing and improving that Soler will need for the upcoming season. He owns a good work rate and surely, he can read the game but Carlos Soler is a player who commits many fouls due to bad timing on his tackles, he’s not strong enough on 1v1 situations and his discipline inside the 18-yard box has let Valencia down by causing two penalties against his team. One of these penalties ended up with him going to the shower early in the match due to a red card against Eibar.
In the following video, you will see why he needs to improve his defending attributes for the upcoming season.
Marcelino has become the new Valencia CF Head Coach for the upcoming season and with his arrival also a new system of play has arrived at the Mestalla Stadium. Valencia CF used to play 4-2-3-1 under “Voro” Gonzalez where we saw Carlos Soler occupying different roles on the pitch (centre midfielder, right midfielder and attacking midfielder).
Marcelino during his time at Villarreal CF played with a 4-4-2 formation and so far at Valencia CF, he has been using the aforementioned formation, seeing Soler playing on a left midfielder role where he has started preseason matches against AFC Bournemouth, Werder Bremen and Atalanta; which makes us think Marcelino has full confidence in Soler’s abilities.
Carlos Soler will face a very important season to define his future in the top flight of European football. Undoubtedly, he’s a player with plenty of quality, composure, creativity and intelligence to help Valencia CF come back to European competitions.
The following video shows his goal against Celta which sums up many of his attributes and great qualities; movement off the ball to break Celta’s defensive line, timing of his run and spatial awareness to avoid the offside, vision and intelligence to decide the best way to finish the play, composure to score a winning goal in the 86th minute.