An upgrade Liverpool must make?

Liverpool have shown an interest in signing Victor Valdes, and should they get him, who should be first choice at Anfield?

The Spanish goalie is a free agent after failing to have his contract renewed with his boyhood club FC Barcelona. Valdes is currently recovering from a knee injury and that’s why Brendan Rodgers isn’t rushing into a decision.

Firstly, age plays a huge part in any transfer. The Spaniard is 32-years-old and has a wealth of experience in the top European and World competitions. Simon Mignolet is 26 and therefore has more room to grow as he gains experience.

A look at the main statistics for a goalkeeper shows that Valdes outperformed Mignolet on paper last season – and all of the following stats are for last season. The Spaniard had a better shots-to-save ratio than Mignolet – 76.7% opposed to 68.2%.

Valdes kept a clean sheet every 2.2 games in La Liga, whereas Liverpool’s Belgian stopper averaged a clean sheet every 3.8 matches. Of course when looking at clean sheet statistics, it’s by no means all down to the ‘keeper as the whole defence, and in some cases the entire team have to play their part. Liverpool conceded more than their fellow title-contenders last season and were certainly shaky defensively. Barcelona faired much better but they generally dominate so much of the ball that the defensive players are rarely involved.

The Ex-Barca keeper conceded 0.8 goals per game on average last campaign. Mignolet conceded 1.3 a game as the Reds struggled defensively. Again this statistic is an accumulative effort based on the whole team.

Simon Mignolet was awarded with the Belgian Goalkeeper of the Year award before being snapped up by Sunderland in 2010. He played in every Premier League game in his debut season with Liverpool. He is Belgium’s No. 2 and has represented his country at every age level. Simon has won the Belgian Second Division and also the aforementioned Belgian Goalkeeper of the Year award. He was also Sunderland’s Player of the Year in his final season with the club.

It’s safe to say that Valdes’ trophy cabinet is slightly more full, as the Spaniard has a ton of personal and team accolades during his 12 year Barcelona stint. The ‘Ricardo Zamora Trophy’ is awarded to the La Liga goalkeeper with the lowest goals-to-games ratio, and Valdes has won the award 5 times. He is one of the most decorated goalkeepers in the history of football. He has six La Liga winners medals along with two Copa del Reys and three Champions League trophies. Iker Casillas has kept him out of the Spain squad during their World Cup and Euro Championship triumphs, but he still has the medals.

The experience that he brings could allow him to help Mignolet progress faster. He also offers a much needed alternative to Simon at Anfield, as current back-up ‘keeper Brad Jones doesn’t really have the necessary quality to push for a first-team place. A short-term deal for Valdes seems a positive move for Liverpool and he could certainly replace the Belgian in the first-team for a while. To have a choice in goal would provide a serious lift to Liverpool’s chances and over the long-term Mignolet may just learn a lot from Valdes’ experience.