Valencia president Anil Murthy admitted that his club were forced to sell Francis Coquelin and Dani Parejo to La Liga rivals Villarreal due to financial crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic.
But Murthy defended the decision, saying the club had no choice but to cut costs due to the revenue losses suffered because of the pandemic.
“We are going to have a complicated season because of COVID-19, so we must be responsible and control costs tightly. What use is a bankrupt club?” said Murthy.
“If things go very wrong in the financial aspect due to COVID-19, all clubs will be in trouble. We have to lead through responsible management during the crisis.”
Coquelin joined Valencia in 2018 for 14 million euros after a 10-year stay at Arsenal, while Parejo ends a nine-year spell with Valencia in which he captained the team to the 2019 Copa del Rey, the club’s first piece of silverware in 11 years.
The sale of the two key players for a reported total of 11 million euros has led to renewed criticism against Murthy and billionaire owner Peter Lim, with fans organising a protest outside the Mestalla stadium.
A tearful Parejo said farewell via a Zoom news conference, revealing that Valencia forced him to leave before the season ended.
“They told me they didn’t want me to stay, it wasn’t the right time or the right way to tell me that,” Parejo said.
“I looked for a way to stay but it wasn’t to be. I’m now joining a stable club, which everyone has told me great things about.”
Valencia, who had secured Champions League football for the previous two seasons, eventually finished ninth in the league.
Villarreal finished fifth in La Liga last season and qualify for the Europa League.
The club also appointed former Arsenal, Sevilla and Valencia manager Unai Emery as the new head coach.