The David de Gea transfer saga continues to drag on, and as it has, Manchester United have been linked with a host of goalkeepers this summer to replace him like Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris, Jasper Cillesen of Ajax and Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak.
The one name that everyone overlooks is Victor Valdes and former striker Dwight Yorke believes that the former Barcelona goalkeeper is more than capable over taking over from de Gea.
“Victor Valdes probably thinks he would have a good opportunity.
“He’s got a wealth of experience and has won everything in the game. He will probably be a suitable candidate and fill that gap.”
Fully recovered from the knee injury which wrecked a move to Monaco following his departure from Barcelona, Valdes has been eased into life at United since arriving at Carrington to continue his rehab last October.
The 33-year-old, who previously worked with Van Gaal in Catalunya earlier in their respective careers, signed an 18-month deal in January to act as De Gea’s backup, as his compatriot enjoyed an outstanding season. As such, Valdes only appeared in under-21 matches, rediscovering his sharpness, for the first four months of his deal, before being thrust into first-team action on the penultimate weekend of the season against Arsenal.
That was his first appearance at senior level in some 14 months and the following week he made his first start, keeping a clean sheet in the goalless draw at Hull, as the Tigers were relegated from the Premier League.
In the Van Gaal systems, he wants his goalkeepers to sweep up behind his defence, to hold a high position, to be proactive, to, on occasion, almost act like an outfield player. Last season United passed the ball back to their goalkeeper more than any other.
This is a system that Valdes has played in since he was a kid growing up Barcelona’s La Masia academy. Valdez’s
distribution has been honed and sculpted in 19 years at Barcelona, from youth to first team levels. In many respects, if you can’t have De Gea, he’s the ideal replacement.
But more than just those technical similarities, the five-time winner of Spain’s Zamora Trophy, awarded to the keeper in Spain with the lowest goals-to-game ratio, is also a fine shot-stopper, who, critically, has made a career of big saves at crucial moments.
Valdes is a proven winner, winning 21 major trophies over a 10-year period from 2004. That winning attitude is something United are looking to add this summer according to United assistant Ryan Giggs:
“If there are players available who are winners, who are proven, then, yeah, let’s go and get them,”
“And with any good team the spine is important. Midfield, striker, centre-backs, goalkeeper. I’m sure we’ll be looking to strengthen the spine all the way through.
Valdes is perfectly positioned to be the man to profit from De Gea’s looming departure and is, perhaps more than any other, the ideal candidate.