Former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdés will sign for Manchester United this week after recovering from a serious knee injury. But what does a deal for the 32-year-old Spanish international say about the future of incumbent number one, David de Gea?
Valdés has been training with United since October in a bid to recover from the anterior cruciate ligament injury sustained against Celta Vigo last season. Now fully fit, Valdés is set to ink an 18-month contract with United, after missing much of Barcelona’s campaign last year together with the World Cup in Brazil. As a free agent Valdés is eligible to register for any team during the winter transfer window.
Despite the serious nature of his injury Valdés comes with an illustrious past, having won six La Liga and three Champions League titles with Barcelona, before departing at the end of last season. Valdes, who spent 12 years at Barcelona before leaving Camp Nou for a fresh challenge, had initially agreed to join Monaco before the French club pulled out of the deal following the player’s injury.
Yet, for all his trophies Valdés also harbours critics, with the Spaniard both short for a top-level stopper and not always dominant under the high ball – a skillset that will certainly be tested in the Premier League.
United’s deal for Valdés will likely end reserve Anders Lindegaard’s time at Old Trafford this winter, but it is the future of De Gea that fascinates most. The 23-year-old was named United’s Player of the Season last year; an honour he must surely be favourite to retain at the half-way stage of the campaign. Yet, with just 18 months left on De Gea’s contract, and Real Madrid reportedly interested, there appears little guarantee the former Atletico Madrid player will remain at Old Trafford beyond next summer.
In this context Valdés’ acquisition could be a precursor to De Gea’s inevitable departure, with the younger man seemingly not keen to extend his stay at United. Alternatively, it may well simply be good business for an experienced ‘keeper that will provide fresh competition to his compatriot.