Valencia sporting director Jesus Garcia Pitarch has identified former Tottenham Hotspur manager Juande Ramos as a replacement for Gary Neville should the club decide to sack the English boss, according to Super Deporte. Chelsea already tried to secure the services of the Spaniard earlier this season after parting ways with Jose Mourinho, but he turned down the offer as he was looking for a long-term project – rather than the interim role eventually accepted by Guus Hiddink.
Valencia appointed Neville as head coach just last December, following the departure of Nuno. But the former Manchester United icon has struggled since taking the reins, failing to win a La Liga match in nine attempts as well as suffering a humiliating 7-0 defeat to Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semi-final first-leg.
Neville has insisted he is the right man for the situation, despite both fans and media calling on him to resign following the latest defeat, to Real Betis at the weekend.
"There's no doubt at times like this, it's a moment when everyone needs to stay together. I agree that everyone suffers – the fans more than anyone," Neville said to reporters after the game. "But we suffer with them. I could be sat here after winning the last two games and everyone would be smiling but things are just not going for us at this moment in time. That was a pretty solid away performance today. I continue to work, I continue to have belief and any conversations are between me and the owners."
Super Deporte, however, reports that Valencia have already identified Ramos as the top candidate to replace Neville should owner Peter Lim decided to sack the Englishman in the coming days.
The Valencia-based publication claims club officials insist that Neville will still be manager for the second-leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final against Barcelona on Wednesday night (10 February). Even so, they understand Garcia Pitarch is already on the hunt for an alternative, with Ramos leading the list of candidates ahead of former Granada boss Joaquin Caparros.
Juande has been without a team since in 2014 when he left Dnipro due to the political conflict between Ukraine and Russia. The former Real Madrid boss is thought of highly among Europe's elite and has recently been linked with the likes of Real Sociedad, Real Betis and, most significantly, Chelsea.
The Times surprised all in December when it reported the Blues were considering Juande as a possible caretaker to replace Mourinho, with AS later confirming the manager's agent was in London to discuss a deal.
However, Ramos, as his close friend Marcos Alvarez recently revealed, rejected the Chelsea proposal as the Blues were only looking to sign him on an interim basis, as they eventually did with Hiddink.
"Juande had an offer from Chelsea. It is complicated to say 'no' to a club like that but he put conditions on the table to get the project underway and at the end there was no agreement. He has very clear ideas," Alvarez said to Canal Sur Radio.
Valencia, if they part ways with Neville, may receive the same response from the former Spurs boss. SuperDeporte claims the club only want a manager until the end of the season, as in the summer the idea would be to bring someone to build a new project such as current Rayo Vallecano gaffer Paco Jemez.
Last week AS reported that Valencia had also approached Rafa Benitez to return to Mestalla at the end of the season.