Recent speculation has linked free agent Victor Valdes with a move to Liverpool who are willing to give the Spaniard time to recover from his anterior cruciate knee ligament injury and prove his fitness, something which will take another a couple of months at least but the Reds hope to sign the player by next month.
Valdes injured himself earlier this year in March and that resulted in him missing out what could possibly have been his last World Cup. And after French club Monaco pulled out of a deal to sign the goalkeeper at the end of his Barcelona contract, he found it difficult to find many suitors and that is where Liverpool could benefit from.
Valdes came through Barcelona’s youth set-up and spent 11 successful years as the first choice goalkeeper at the Nou Camp and reached the apex of his career under Pep Guardiola’s tiki-taka brand of football where he was tasked with playing the ball out from the back along with the defenders and starting attacks, a style that fits right into the template of Brendan Rodgers who is reportedly not content with the competition at the club for Simon Mignolet who played every minute of football in the league last season but also made the highest errors leading directly to goal by any players with six. The only backup keeper Brad Jones hasn’t featured at all in the Premier League in two out of his three seasons at the club.
Rodgers realisation of needing someone to challenge the Belgian for his starting position came a bit too late in the form of a late move for Reading’s Alex McCarthy. But the player ended up joining Queen’s Park Rangers for £6m. Pepe Reina had departed for Bayern Munich a couple of weeks earlier having been on the exit door of the club for over a year, and the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City, Spurs, Chelsea, and Southampton have now acquired the additional service of David Ospina, Willy Caballero, Michel Vorm, Thibaut Courtois and Fraser Forster in their ranks for the new campaign.
Truckloads of experience
Valdes will go down in history as a Barcelona legend who won 21 major titles, most notably six La Liga’s and three Champions League. He made 387 La Liga and 106 Champions League appearances which could prove to be very useful for a remarkably young side whose only player above the age of 26 to start in the recent win over Tottenham over the weekend was Steven Gerrard.
He has also won the Zamora Trophy a joint record five times along with Antoni Ramallets of the 50’s generation, an award that goes to the goalkeeper who has the lowest goals per games ratio. Also, he holds the club records as goalkeeper with most appearances in the league and in official competitions.
At the age of 32, Valdes is far from the twilight of a goalkeeper’s career and just a couple of weeks before getting injured against Celta Vigo, he made this world class save from Edin Dzeko in the second leg of the Champions League round of 16.
Comparison with Mignolet from last season
Mignolet impressed in the early days of his Liverpool career with some impressive saves to give Liverpool crucial wins but over the course of the season, he made some high profile errors and was at times failed to commanding his area properly along with being averse to rush out of his area, something that Valdes for example would have done when Demba Ba charged towards goal at the Kop End. Mignolet is a very good shot stopper and has done well to adjust to the possession football played under Rodgers which is why it makes sense to get in Valdes who was also excellent at one on one’s at Barcelona where he was regularly exposed with the high line the Catalans maintain.
Valdes made more saves per goal than the Belgian number two but made less number of catches and punches per game than the Liverpool goalkeeper. Even Mignolet’s distribution accuracy was marginally better than his Spanish counterpart, and it shows the progress he has made to adapt himself to play short passes to his defenders even while under pressure. The excellent Andrew Beasley posted this stat about Mignolet saving 11 out of the 32 big chances he faced while Valdes saved 13 out of the 22 which clearly shows that Valdes is much more reliable when the team needs him more.
Valdes brings with him a winning pedigree to the squad whose next step is to challenge for accolades. Brad Jones himself is 32 years old and Valdes is not only an upgrade on the Australian, but will also prove to be a more than capable replacement for Mignolet should he get injured or suffers a drop in form. He will only be able to return to full fitness towards the end of the season, however if Liverpool were to sign him, Valdes could prove to be quite an astute signing for the latter part of the season.