Victor Valdes is expected to make his Manchester United debut in the less-than-glamorous surroundings of Cambridge United’s Abbey Stadium on Friday night.
The former Barcelona keeper, who has won three Champions League titles and a World Cup, is set to don the gloves for United for the first time in their FA Cup fourth-round clash at the League Two side’s 8,100-capacity home.
Valdes signed an 18-month contract at Old Trafford earlier this month and has been named on the bench for United’s Premier League matches at QPR and at home to Southampton behind David de Gea.
However, he is expected to play for the first time since suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury in Barcelona’s clash with Celta Viga last March.
United manager Louis van Gaal, who worked with Valdes during his own second stint at the Nou Camp, invited the keeper to the club to complete his rehabilitation.
Fellow Spaniard De Gea has once again been in sterling form this season and is rumoured to have interested Real Madrid.
The 24-year-old’s contract expires in 18 months and with no extension agreed speculation grew that he may be set to depart Old Trafford.
However, Van Gaal moved to reassure supporters that he will shortly pen a new long-term deal.
Valdes’ presence is already being felt by his team-mates. Defender Chris Smalling told MUTV he had been in fine form on the training pitch.
‘He (Valdes) is someone that we all look up to through what he’s achieved already in his career but you can see that he’s nowhere near done yet,’ said Smalling.
‘On the training field he’s so sharp and you can see that he’s very agile. He’s such a great addition and is a name that really belongs here at Manchester United.
‘We’ve heard a few stories from him and quite a few people here have asked him questions. Barcelona is another great club and you want to get some insight of what happens abroad as well.’