Potential replacements for Victor Valdes

Barcelona look set to enter the transfer market in the next 18 months for a goalkeeper after Victor Valdes signalled his intention to end an association with the Catalan side dating back to 1992.

Valdes holds the record for appearances by a goalkeeper at the Camp Nou, surpassing the 301 games acquired by Andoni Zubizarreta during the 2011-12 season.  But it would appear that a life of standing behind what is probably the greatest club side of all time is not enough for Valdes, and the Spanish stopper feels he has more to achieve in the game.  His intention to leave Barcelona at the end of his contract 2014 has put a number of top European clubs on red alert for his signature, but who can the La Liga champions sign to stand back and watch Lionel Messi and co ‘tika taka’ their way to numerous domestic and European honours?

David De Gea – Manchester United – Following the youngsters big money move from Atletico Madrid, De Gea has come in for a lot of criticism for his un-imposing frame and failure to command his penalty box, particularly when dealing with crosses.  The lack of a consistent understudy in Anders Lindegaard coupled with the sizeable investment made in him has meant that Sir Alex Ferguson has given De Gea more opportunity than he would have done other keepers in the past.  However, the Spaniard has demonstrated that he is an excellent shot stopper and distributor of the ball, the latter of which would certainly appeal to Tito Vilanova and his teams passing philosophy.  Already accustomed to the rigours of La Liga, De Gea could make the switch to the Catalan giants as part of a swap deal with Valdes, who at the age of just 31, could still have 5 or 6 years at the top level to offer.

Pepe Reina – Liverpool – Much like with De Gea, this transfer could happen as a swap deal with Valdes heading to Anfield.  Reina, a year younger than Valdes, also came through the Barcelona youth system but sought regular football outside of Catalonia, moving to Villarreal in 2002.  Following a move to Liverpool and a subsequent 250 plus appearances in the Premier League, Reina has established himself as one of the better goalkeepers in the division.  Although excellent shot stopper and distributor, Reina is susceptible to the odd clanger, particularly in the last 18 months where he has seen a downturn in his form.  Despite this lack of form, Reina remains undisputed Liverpool number one although I return ‘home’ may well appeal to him for the remaining years of his career.

Tim Krul – Newcastle United – At 23, much like De Gea, the Dutch international is still of an age where he could establish himself at the Camp Nou for many many years.  Krul has earned rave reviews for his performances at St James Park after wrestling the number one jersey from Steve Harper.  Equally as good a shot stopper as the previous two candidates but at 6ft 4in a much more physically imposing figure.  Krul has been a prominent player for Newcastle since 2011 and he consistently excellent performances have led to five international caps for Holland, forcing the likes of Kenneth Vermeer of Ajax and Roma’s Maarten Stekelenburg to play understudies.  Unlike the above two options, any deal is extremely unlikely to be a swap deal, with Newcastle almost certain to be unable to offer Valdes the European football he would require.

It is widely regarded that Valdes is by no means the greatest goalkeeper out there, but when you are playing for Barcelona, you don’t necessarily need to be.  While none of the above candidates could be considered to be among the very best in the world, all would be adequate replacements for one of Barcelona’s greatest ever servants.

Aaron Sharp