Valeri’s cheeky swipe at City’s PR own goal

Carl Valeri has done his best to stoke the embers of the cross-city rivalry ahead of this week’s derby, suggesting Melbourne City’s loss of David Villa for over a month of the season was a classic case of ‘buyer beware’.

City’s polished new public image has been rocked this week by the revelation that their Spanish superstar will leave Australia for New York after Round 4, with his return date unknown. 

That PR own-goal was compounded by a significant injury setback to international marquee Robert Koren, who is yet to appear for the club.

Speaking to the media after training on Thursday, Valeri was caught unawares by news of Villa’s imminent departure, but was quick to put a tongue-in-cheek spin on the situation.

“I honestly didn’t know that – you’ve got to read the fine print in the contracts,” he said.

“He’s bought a spotlight to the A-League and good on him. He’s got to make his personal decisions regardless of what happens in Australia. I think they (City) knew before hand, I can’t comment too much because I don’t know.”

All jokes aside, Valeri and his team-mates knows Villa will pose a significant threat to Victory’s hopes of claiming local bragging rights on Saturday night.

But the 52-cap Socceroo says Kevin Muscat’s men won’t be focusing too much on the FIFA World Cup and UEFA Champions League winner.

“There’s responsibility on every player to keep an eye on everyone,” he said.

“Obviously he’s one to look out for because in and around the box he’s fantastic at getting shots on goal. But we study every player, every team, just as much as we’re studying Melbourne City.”

Saturday’s match will be Valeri’s first taste of one of the biggest games in Australian football, with the 30-year-old eager to sample the frenzied atmosphere of what is expected to be a sold-out Etihad Stadium.

“I’ve seen highlights of a few, but never actually been to one,” he said.

“It’s an exciting time for myself and especially the club. The fans, I know they’re pumped, and it’s great to play in front of my family and friends who are coming down to watch.”

A-League fantasy.