Victor Valdes: Who Could Replace Him at Barcelona?
If Valdés chooses to leave Spain, he could move to the Premier League or Serie A, or he could be tempted by the fortunes offered by certain Russian and Asian clubs.
The question every Barça will be asking, though, is: Who would then replace him at the Camp Nou? From renowned keepers who have proven their credentials at the highest level to outside bets on young, up-and-coming keepers, here is a list of seven players that may end up replacing Valdés at Barcelona.
David De Gea, Age 22
David de Gea has been linked with FC Barcelona since he was spotted at youth level. However, the Catalans chose not to buy him from Atlético Madrid and may end up regretting their decision, and paying considerably more to get him now.
De Gea stood out in the season he helped Atlético Madrid win both the Europa League and the European Supercup. The next summer, he was whisked away by Manchester United.
He hasn’t had an easy time at Old Trafford, though, putting on the gloves of the legendary Edwin van der Sar. He is still not the undisputed starter for the keeper position and has had trouble to adapt to English culture.
A move back to Spain could prove positive for both parties, and the Spain U21 keeper could represent the future both for Barcelona and the national side.
Andrés Fernández, Age 26
Andrés Fernández is the current goalkeeper of Osasuna, and he's fighting for the Zamora trophy (which rewards the keeper that concedes the least goals in the season). And this is despite his club being rock bottom at the foot of the table.
He has conceded just 20 goals this season, one less than Barcelona and the same number as Real Madrid. A remarkable achievement made even more significant by the fact that he has received 213 shots on his goal in the same time.
Fernández came up through the Tenerife youth system before playing for the Mallorca and Osasuna B teams. In the 2010-2011 season, he was loaned by Osasuna to Huesca and finished as best goalkeeper of the Second Division.
But it is really in the 2011-2012 season that Fernández caught the eye of major clubs, in particular with his stellar performance against Atlético Madrid, eventually winning the starting XI spot over Ricardo.
Vicente Guaita, Age 25
The Valencia goalkeeper has also been in the agenda of Spain’s major clubs for a few seasons. Considering the recent policy of cashing in on players in their prime, Valencia may well put Vicente Guiata on the market this summer.
Guaita rose through the ranks of the Valencia youth system up to the first team, where he debuted in 2008. He was loaned to Recreativo in the 2009-2010 season, where he won the best goalkeeper award of the Second Division.
Since then, he has been the No. 1 choice at Valencia, although he has been unavailable for a few periods due to personal bereavement and a bad injury picked up in November 2011.
Manuel Neuer, Age 26
Manuel Neuer has been considered one of the top goalkeepers in the world over the last few years. The Germany and Bayern Munich No. 1 was one of the three goalkeepers shortlisted for the 2012 Ballon d’Or alongside Iker Casillas and Gianluigi Buffon.
Coming through the ranks at Schalke 04, Neuer moved to Bayern Munich in 2011 for a reported €22 million, making him the second-most expensive goalkeeper in history (behind Buffon’s €33 million move to Juventus).
It would take a club of the stature of Barcelona to lure Neuer away from Bayern Munich, and he would always be a tough deal to get. One element that could prove decisive in Barcelona’s favor is if Bayern miss out on the Champions League trophy again this season.
Neuer could see moving to another club as his only chance at getting his hands on the most prized trophy in club football.
Marc André Ter Stegen, Age 20 (Outside Bet No. 1)
The young keeper from Borussia Mönchengladbach is one of the new rising stars in European football as far as goalkeepers are concerned. At just 20 years old, he would be bit of an outside bet, although he has already had two caps with the national team and has been compared to Oliver Khan for his style of play.
He also has a reputation of showing up for big games, in particular putting in great performances against German giants Bayern Munich on more than one occasion.
Bernd Leno, Age 20 (Outside Bet No. 2)
Another young German goalkeeper on the rise, Bernd Leno is currently the first-choice goalkeeper for Bayer Leverkusen.
Going up through the youth system at Stuttgart before moving to Leverkusen on loan, he made his move permanent in November 2011, just one month after becoming the youngest German goalkeeper in Champions League history during Leverkusen’s game against Chelsea.
His current contract runs until 2017, but if the Catalan giants come asking, he may well consider a move to Barcelona.
Joseph Fabrice Ondoa, Age 17
If Barcelona chose to keep Valdés for a few more years and pursues their historic policy of bringing in players from La Masia, then Fabrice Ondoa, 17, would probably be their first choice.
A penalty-stopper specialist, Ondoa was already called up to train with the first team by Pep Guardiola in March 2012. The Cameroonian teenager is one of the players that was spotted and signed through the Eto’o Foundation put in place by the former Barcelona and Inter striker.