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Enner Valencia bids farewell to Tigres following arrival of Leo Fernández

The Ecuadorian played three years for the club and helped them to two league titles

Tigres UANL v Alianza - CONCACAF Champions League 2020 Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images

In a highly anticipated move, Ecuadorian striker Enner Valencia is moving on from his club based In San Nicolás de los Garza after three years of wearing the blue and yellow. In the wake of Leo Fernández’s stellar performance at Toluca in the shortened Clausura 2020, Tigres knew they had to reel in their young upcoming star who was on loan with the Mexiquenses. The arrival of club president Alejandro Rodríguez was the key factor in this move taking place, as ex-president Miguel Garza appeared to have no interest in bringing in the Uruguayan youngster.

Following his unsuccessful stint in Europe, Enner Valencia was purchased by Tigres from English club West Ham United back in the summer of 2017 for around €5.5 million, according to Transfermarkt. His arrival at the club was highly regarded and expected to add extra firepower to an already extremely dangerous offense led by French striker Gignac. He lived up to the hype during his first season (Apertura 2017), missing only one regular season game and tallying 9 goals with Tigres, with the club finishing 2nd place overall. Not to mention, he was a vital part of that season’s playoff run, with Tigres ultimately defeating their city rivals, Rayados de Monterrey, in the Final. He scored his team’s only goal in the Final’s first leg at home. The following season wasn’t as friendly to Valencia, missing three regular season games and scoring only 3 goals in the Clausura 2018, where Tigres were ousted from the playoffs in the Quarter-Finals vs. Santos.

His production began to decline during the Apertura 2018 season, participating in only 11 league matches, totaling just 2 goals while riding the bench for a good portion of the season. Not to mention, Tigres were once again sacked in the playoffs’ first round, this time vs. Pumas. For the Clausura 2019, “Tuca” gave Valencia another shot, increasing his usage and playing time in both competitions Tigres were part of that semester. But while Tigres got the results, fans continued to complain Valencia wasn’t appearing in the crucial moments. While he scored 7 goals in the CONCACAF Champions’ League, he failed to make an impact in the Final vs. Rayados, where his team was held down and incapable of creating danger vs. Diego Alonso’s team, negating Tigres once again of their first international title. In the domestic league competition, he only scored 2 goals during the regular season, along with riding the bench in the final three playoff games where Tigres ultimately were crowned champions in spite of him. He totaled only 60 minutes out of the Final’s 180’ vs. León.

Ferretti continued giving him playing time during the Apertura 2019, as he played 16 games, starting most of them. He didn’t score a single goal as the pressure continued to mount with fans on his declining level of play. He played most of the Quarter-Final series vs. América, and again failed to score or make a difference as Tigres were eliminated by an aggregate score of 5-4, closing the series at home. Finally, during the shortened Clausura 2020, he played in 9 out of the 10 games, but only completed three of them, scoring just one goal with a Tigres side struggling to create offense and maintain consistency on the road.

At the age of 30 and supposedly in his peak, it is sad to say that Valencia has shown a clear decline compared to his first year with Tigres. If there’s anyone who can’t complain about playing time and opportunities under “Tuca”, it’s Valencia, as he was given multiple chances every season. But with the lack of offensive production and failing to appear in the big moments, it was a matter of time before club front office brought someone in to help Gignac and company, as a club of this stature can’t wait around too long for a player to come around.

Rumors had been swirling about Valencia’s club exit this past week, and this morning it was finally confirmed by the Ecuadorian player himself through his twitter account, where he thanked the club for everything. A no doubt disappointing turnout when you look back at the potential Valencia clearly displayed at certain moments. It could’ve and should’ve been a much longer relationship filled with more success stories, had Valencia performed closer to the height of his expectations.

With Valencia officially out the door, it’s clear Ferretti and company are preparing to hand youngster Fernández the chance he has so rightfully earned with his amazing display this past season. If Fernández can adapt to “Tuca’s” system, resolving Tigres’ aim and effectiveness issues on offense, their potential would reach new heights and they would automatically become favorites to claim the Apertura 2020 title, as they look to continue their “Team of the Decade” status.