Joel Valencia has a long-term future at Brentford despite struggling to make an impact in this first season at the club, boss Thomas Frank has insisted.
The winger was the Polish league’s player of the year when signed from Piast Gliwice but Frank admits he was off the pace when he arrived last summer.
The Bees manager thinks Valencia has been unlucky with injuries and the form of the ‘BMW’ front line of Said Benrahma, Ollie Watkins and Bryan Mbuemo.
“When you come to the Championship, it takes time to adapt,” Frank said.
“Some are quicker than others, but most need a couple of months to adapt to the speed and tempo of it, and also of our training.
“So he came into a totally different environment and struggled to keep up with the pace for the first couple of months. But he gave a big effort every day – a top pro – and we spoke a lot with him, so he was aware.
“After two months he looked better and better, started against Wigan, we won 3-0, but then he was subbed off with an injury to his collarbone, and was out for six weeks.
“Then he needed to be built again, and when he came back he just lacked that little sharpness, then he got back to it and we had the coronavirus break. So he’s had lots of setbacks. Plus, of course, the BMW has been amazing.
“But he has been working unbelievably hard through all of that, and he is a top player for the group, and I think his time will come. I believe he has a long-term future here.”