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Valencia sack Juan Antonio Pizzi

Juan Antonio Pizzi had been in charge at Valencia since December.

Juan Antonio Pizzi has been fired by Valencia, despite the club's sale to Singapore businessman Peter Lim remaining in limbo.

Pizzi only took over at Valencia in December, and guided the team to the Europa League semifinals and a mid-table finish in the Primera Division despite continuing off-pitch turmoil at Mestalla.

Lim, who is a close associate of Portuguese super-agent Jorge Mendes, is expected to appoint current Rio Ave coach Nuno Espirito Santo -- a Mendes client -- as Los Che's fifth permanent coach in just two years should his purchase of the club go through.

That changeover was expected to happen in late May, when Lim's offer for Valencia was accepted by the foundation that, on paper, controlled a majority of the heavily-indebted club's shares. However, negotiations with its lender Bankia have yet to be concluded.

Valencia's statement announcing the dismissal of Pizzi did not clear up any of the confusion around the future of the club.

"With the delay in the sale of Valencia, and for motives unconnected to the governance of the club, with the aim of being able to provide stability for the future sporting project, the board of Valencia CF, having analysed all the possibilities in this complex and crucial moment for the shareholding of the club, has taken the decision to dispense with the services of Juan Antonio Pizzi as coach," the statement read.

"Valencia Club de Futbol wishes the best of luck to Pizzi and his coaching staff, who have showed professionalism and commitment in their work for the club."

Since Lim's interest in buying Valencia was first made public last autumn, a number of big-name players -- including Jackson Martinez, Enzo Perez, Rodrigo and Ezequiel Garay -- have been linked with the club in media speculation.

Such rumours seemingly helped persuade Valencia's fans and directors to accept the offer from the businessman, who had previously been linked with unsuccessful moves to take charge of Liverpool, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid, Middlesbrough and Glasgow Rangers.

Former club captain David Albelda and goalkeeeper Santi Canizares have recently spoken of their concerns over the direction of the club. La Liga president Javier Tebas also earlier this week revealed his discomfort at a situation where the same individual would "own" both a club and many of its players should the deal finally be completed.

"When I speak about the 'Lim model,' what concerns me is, and what we do not like in La Liga, is the feeling that someone is the owner of a football club and also the owner of players, and loans them to the club. That is an internal debate we are having, and is the majority opinion of the clubs," Tebas said. "But we must wait -- to see if this is done or not, to see he brings his own players or not, and first to see if he buys the club or not."

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