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Last month the Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes announced that he would not be renewing his contract with the club that ends in June 2014. He has been the first choice goalkeeper since 2003/4 and has won a staggering 19 titles with his beloved Barcelona.
There has been a fairly mixed reaction to the news that the Catalan club now need to find a replacement goalkeeper. Some feel that it is greed and that he has possibly already negotiated a better deal elsewhere. Others feel that he owes the club everything and should be more loyal, whilst some feel that he has dedicated a significant period of his career to the club and should be celebrated rather than berated.
Ever since becoming number one at Barcelona there are very few players who have divided opinion as much as Valdes. Many see him as being the weak point of the side; someone who makes too many errors and a player some see as not good enough to warrant the role he has enjoyed at the club for the last 10 seasons.
Others, this writer included, feel that he is a highly underrated keeper who has, at times kept Barcelona in games when they didn’t deserve to be so (away at the Mestalla last weekend against Valencia for example).
One thing in particular stands out about Valdes’ keeping ability which is his ability at one on one shot stopping. There are few goalkeepers in the world who are quite as accomplished when dealing with an on coming striker. Perhaps the constant training with the likes of Iniesta, Messi, Ronaldinho and Villa have given him an insight into the striker’s mind. Somehow he always manages to get a touch on everything and protect the goal.
Most people forget that being a goalkeeper in a side such as Barca’s is actually quite a tough job. For long periods of the game you can have nothing to do as your side is controlling the possession but at any time you could be called into action and focus needs to be applied. It is actually when your star performers are not quite at their best when you find out how good your goalkeeper is, and Valdes has proved that time and again during his career.
The list of attributes needed to replace Valdes would make interesting reading. Firstly they will have to be a good commanding keeper capable of organising a defence.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, they will have to be good in possession as much of Barca’s distribution from the defence is made along the ground. There have been several names touted around at the moment and that will be commented upon at length over the coming months.
Whatever the feeling is about Valdes’ decision it is one that has been made and the future is now the important thing. It is almost inconceivable to think it will affect the player’s dedication to the cause and could actually inspire him towards one last push.
He has been a great servant for the club and has at least allowed them plenty of time to find his replacement.
Written by Andy Hunter
Follow Andy on Twitter @hunter67980
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