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Napoli's Higuain wants to match Maradona

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By ESPN Staff

Soler agrees to sell stake in debt-ridden Valencia

MADRID, July 25 (Reuters) - Valencia's majority shareholder Juan Soler has sacked the club's recently appointed financial consultant Juan Villalonga and agreed to sell his shares in the debt-ridden Primera Liga outfit to former rival Vicente Soriano.

The club, in danger of financial meltdown, has been in a state of internal turmoil over the last few seasons with Soler under increasing pressure to step aside.

Villalonga, the former head of Spanish telecommunication giants Telefonica, was brought in last month to advise on the situation and put together a plan to salvage the club but Soler accused the businessman of failing to live up to expectations.

'I want to make it clear that Villalonga didn't leave by his own accord, he was sacked,' Soler told a news conference Thursday. 'I gave him a trial and he didn't pass it.

'We are a viable club economically speaking even though we are going through a difficult period.'

Soler said he had reached an agreement to sell his packet of shares to the club's second biggest shareholder Soriano for 71.6 million euros ($112.5 million).

'I do not want to make a euro out of the deal,' Soler said. 'Soriano will now have all the political power and I will give him all my support.'

Earlier, Villalonga had said the club was in danger of folding completely.

'Valencia are exactly 439 million euros in debt,' he said. 'If we add to that the 350 million that has to be paid for a new stadium it rises to 739 million.

'Do you know how much money Valencia has to pay before December 31 this year? Some 150 million euros... We have a patient in intensive care who is in danger of dying,' the businessman concluded.

On the pitch, Valencia were also in chaos last season as they got through three different coaches and diced with the threat of relegation although they gained some consolation by winning the King's Cup.

Spanish media has reported that the club may have to sell some of its leading players such as Spanish internationals David Villa and David Silva if they are to weather their financial crisis.

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