After losing his place with Valencia over the last 12 months, the transfer window provided the opportunity for the once Spanish international Vicente to move. It proved a move which was extraordinary and unpredictable, yet for many went completely unnoticed. Ben Pinkney looks at Brighton's new signing. Follow him on Twitter: @benpinkney42
Arguably the signing of the summer somewhat slipped under the radar of Sky Sports News and the electable Jim White come deadline day – a player who can account for 34 Spanish International caps and two La Liga winners’ medal - Vicente Rodríguez Guillén had joined Championship highflyers Brighton & Hove Albion FC after more than a decade’s worth of service for CF Valencia.
Settling down inside Brighton’s American Express Community Stadium, the colourful addition of Vicente represents the enthusiastic and ambitious nature to which Brighton have become so synonymous with, perfectly.
Released by Unai Emery, after 11 seasons at the Estadio Mestalla, Brighton officials had to conclude the deal inside Gatwick airport in order to fend off interest from Championship rivals Leicester City. Alas, the Spaniard arrives in the south-east with 33 International caps, two La Liga titles, a UEFA Cup, a UEFA Super Cup and one Copa del Rey to his name, an impressive CV by any standard.
"A few clubs were interested a few years ago and I was close to moving, but things happened to stop it. But I always wanted to come here to discover the football culture which you have here - it's totally different."
Vicente has long been touted with a move to England and at one point was subject to a £25m price tag, as well as being inextricably linked to Manchester United and Real Madrid; he very much lived up to the narrative. Injuries meant that he was seldom seen toward the end of his Valencia career, even now admitting to 40% fitness, but appears highly enthused toward life in the south and the challenge ahead.
It’s important to recognise that the transfer in itself masquerades what Brighton and Hove Albion FC has become; Gustavo Poyet’s powers of seduction, coupled with the club’s infrastructure has meant that Brighton withhold a very authoritative position within English League football. The prospectus which Gustavo Poyet and Brighton have managed to create will no doubt stand them in good stead for the immediate future.
"The main thing was chatting with [Gustavo] Poyet, he explained about the club and the way the team plays, the stadium and everything about the football rather than the money. It gave me a good feeling. The team plays passing, attacking football which will suit me. They like to enjoy playing and so I think I'm at the right club."
Vicente’s signature is, no doubt, a huge coup for Brighton, not only because it represents the realization that they’ve developed into a club which is able to attract this calibre of player but because his experience could prove invaluable in the final leg of their climb into the country’s elite.
Furthermore, Vicente, now 30, feels he has “four or five more years at the top level” and from early impressions seems determined to play in that top flight alongside fellow countryman David Silva. Naturally a left midfielder, Vicente is known best for his intelligent movement ‘in between the lines’, creativity, a dangerous goal threat and being a technically gifted individual – often compared to Chelsea’s Juan Mata, the player who acquired Vicente’s mantle at Valencia during the 2009/09 campaign – but, his biggest test will be to stay fit.
Although time will be needed to adjust, echoed by team mate Marcos Painter and manager Gustavo Poyet, Vicente has already subjected Brighton fans and Sky Sports viewers alike to what he has to offer, being substituted on for a limping Will Buckley against Liverpool midweek in the Carling Cup and winning a penalty for the Seagulls toward the dying stages of the 90 minutes as well as 45 minutes versus Leeds United.
The “promised land” of the Premier League represents a very real proposition for Vicente, Brighton and Hove Albion and their expectant fans, especially if their new acquisition can find anything like top form once again.