It has recently come out that Victor Valdes will not renew his contract at FC Barcelona, which expires at the end of June 2014. The question is though: does it really matter that he’s leaving?
Valdes has made nearly five hundred appearances for Barca since making his debut in 2002-03, and has won everything there is to win in the game, at both club and international level. However, there are plenty of people who won’t mourn his departure (I can’t decide if I’m one of them or not), and will be quite happy at his intention not to sign a new contract. While he is undoubtedly a quality ‘keeper, he is prone to costly errors, and in one-on-ones he can be beaten fairly easily. On the other hand, he does regularly pull off stunning, and vital, saves at times. Love him or not, he finally provided some stability between the sticks after years of trying to replace the legendary Zubizareta.
Where Will VV Go?
At 31 years of age, he may well feel that he wants a new challenge in a foreign league, and who could blame him? However, is he going to get a move to a top side and get a start? The news that he was leaving coincided with Guardiola’s appointment at Bayern Munchen, leading to the inevitable rumours that the two would link up at Allianz Arena, maybe as early as this summer. After all, if he’s not renewing, who could blame Barca for cashing in during the summer window? They could command a decent fee, rather than lose him for nothing next year.
So, to his next destination; where will that be? As things stand, there’s no way he would displace Manuel Neuer between the sticks in Bavaria. However, Neuer was never a popular signing with the Bayern fans considering he came from Schalke, so there could be an opportunity for Valdes there. Elsewhere in Germany, Borussia Dortmund would be an option, but they have a club legend in goal, Roman Weidenfeller, who has made over three hundred appearances, and is the club’s vice captain. Maybe the most likely destination in Germany would be Neuer’s old club Schalke 04. They already have a relationship with Barca, with Ibrahim Afellay currently on loan, and of course they had Real Madrid legend Raul on their books recently.
What about Italy? Inter Milan have only just signed a new goalkeeper, spending €11million on experienced Slovenian international Samir Handanovic last summer, so they might not be looking for a new stopper so soon. Inter’s city rivals AC Milan could be a distinct possibility, with the Rossoneri not having an undisputed number one currently. Juventus, meanwhile, have Gianluigi Buffon and Marco Storari on their books, so aren’t likely to be in the market either.
That leaves England as maybe the most likely destination for Valdes. However, how many of the top Premier League sides would be interested? Manchester United have David De Gea, Chelsea have Petr Cech and Thibault Courtois, and Manchester City have England number one Joe Hart. It’s unlikely that any of these clubs would be interested, although maybe a potential swap with De Gea would be possible. London would certainly appeal to Valdes, and Arsenal could be a very distinct possibility. Their current first choice is Wojciech Szczesny, but not all fans are 100% convinced by the Polish international, and an experienced goalkeeper might appeal to them.
Of course, with their number one leaving, attention turns to the question of who will replace Valdes at Camp Nou? There could well be a swap deal in the end, with Neuer, Courtois or De Gea finding a new home in Catalunya. Courtois and De Gea would be the most likely for me, with Cech still first choice at Stamford Bridge, and De Gea still has to convince many United fans as to his quality. Courtois in particular will be looking for first team football after being Atleti’s number one for two seasons. Other options could include Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Borussia Moenchengladbach’s twenty year old German international, although he is probably too young for such a big move at the moment. Liverpool man Pepe Reina, a former Barca player, has also been mentioned, although his star seems to be on the wane, and I don’t think that would be a good signing.
Valencia have two excellent goalkeepers in their squad; Diego Alves and Vicente Guaita, and either one would be an excellent signing in my opinion. Aged 27 and 25 respectively, they both have plenty of appearances and experience to their name.
Of course, Barca like to promote from within, and they have a ready made replacement in the B team, Oier Olazabal. Vice captain of the second string, twenty three years of age, and with over a hundred games in Segunda Division, for me he is the obvious choice to step up and keep goal for the next ten years.
In the end then, to answer the question I posed at the top of the article; no, I don’t think it does matter that Valdes is leaving, provided the replacement is right. And in Olazabal, I think the replacement is already there.