It seems goalkeepers are living times of uncertainty at most of the top Premier League clubs. In the last few weeks, the goalkeepers from Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea have been involved with rumours of summer exits, replacements and under-performances, leaving the respective fans wondering who will be where next season. The name of Victor Valdes has been added to this unresolved puzzle and with Gunners and Reds pondering his signing, we take a look at the viability of Barcelona keeper landing at The Emirates or Anfield.
Why would Barca want to sell? Is he still good enough? These are probably two questions that naturally come to people’s minds when the goalkeeper of the best team in the world publicly says is looking for a new challenge. There is an inevitable halo of mistrust, similar to when you buy something second-hand, you could say. Is it going to break after two weeks?
Well, there is nothing wrong with him. Valdes is actually an excellent stopper that has been for a decade at the Nou Camp’s goal and, as he mentioned, that brings a lot of pressure with it. He also stated his desire to try new leagues and cultures before putting an end to his career. It remains to be known whether he feels more attracted by the English football culture or, on the other hand, the culture of big pay cheques lead him to Russia, Middle East or one of those places where money rules with an iron fist.
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Whoever manages to sign The Panther, will probably be making a good deal. Valdes is now 31, not a bad age for a goalie. With three Champions League medals, five La Liga titles, two Spanish Cups guarantee that the Spaniard knows how to deal with big game pressure.
Valdes has also won five times the Zamora Trophy – award to the goalkeeper conceding the least amount of goals in La Liga. It is fair to admit that a good part of this merit relies on the rest of the team, as Barcelona tend to concede very few goal chances, but this also underlines his ability to show up when the team need of his talent.
On the negative side, his bad temper is clearly his weak point. Valdes strong personality has made him being the focal point of different controversies on and off the pitch (he is currently banned for four games after his abuse to the referee in the last Clasico. However, we are not talking about another Mario Balotelli or Joey Barton, he is not a ‘bad boy’. His overconfidence when playing the ball with his feet has also betrayed him sometimes, although he has improved on this aspect.
Should Arsenal or Liverpool finally have a go and try to sign the Spanish international, it will definitely be a good move. Not so much for the Reds, perhaps. Although Valdes is probably a step above Reina in terms of performance in the last couple of seasons, it would mainly mean changing one experienced goalkeeper for another one, and Valdes’ transfer is likely to be more expensive than the income received for cashing Reina.
At the Emirates, however, Victor Valdes could be a great asset for Arsene Wenger’s needs. The bright sides of the Spaniard’s strong personality are his dominance and leadership skills. Always an authority figure for Barcelona’s defence, he will shout as much as needed in order to get the best from his back-four at Arsenal. Not a bad remedy for a team that have shown defensive weaknesses in the last few seasons.
Valdes will become a free agent in 2014, which, along with the rumours of Barcelona scanning the market in search of a new stopper, suggests the possibility of a summer transfer. Liverpool and Arsenal will find the competition of less historic and richer clubs as, for a player that has won everything, money could weight more than the prospects of titles or Champions League football.
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