FC Barcelona goalkeeper Víctor Valdés has refused to renew his contract. This signals his preference to leave the Catalonian club.
Barça sports director Andoni Zubizarreta said (via SI.com):
We had a first meeting to start the process of renewing Victor's contract. In that meeting we expressed the club's interest in extending his contract, (but) before we could make any proposal his agent said that his decision had been made and that he wouldn't continue beyond June 30, 2014.
This article will list his top four possible successors.
Víctor Valdés is a five-time Zamora Trophy recipient, an award given to the La Liga goalkeeper with the lowest goals-to-games ratio.
That award is worthless because saves per goal conceded (SPGC) and save percentage (S%) are the two most important stats to a keeper.
Concentration is Víctor's worst characteristic, which happens to be one of the main attributes required in a shot-stopper.
If Barcelona buy a goalkeeper and two fully fit centre-backs with world-class pedigree, then the club will go unbeaten in a season.
Therein lies the reason why Valdés is judged so critically.
No one in their right mind will critique the tiqui-taca style which has played a pivotal part in the club becoming a global franchise.
However, when it all goes wrong at the back, there's an easy scapegoat—Víctor Valdés!
Why isn't this the case with Iker Casillas?
There's this aura around San Iker which shields him from the harsh criticism he should receive when he does make mistakes.
This season is a prime example because he has been in poor form for Real Madrid, yet everyone is focusing on José Mourinho.
Víctor has had stretches of world-class play for Barça but the gaffes (and it's the keepers' equivalent of Titus Bramble) will forever taint his reputation.
Valdés is the Catalonian David James.
|1. Caballero (Málaga)||3.4||78.4|
|2. Toño (Granada)||2.8||74.2|
|3. Adrián (Betis)||2.6||73.0|
|4. Álvarez (Espanyol)||2.6||72.4|
|5. Andrés (Osasuna)||2.6||71.1|
|6. Dani (Valladolid)||2.4||72.1|
|7. Iraizoz (Bilbao)||2.4||71.0|
|8. Courtois (Atléti)||2.4||70.4|
|9. Moyà (Getafe)||2.4||70.2|
|10. Bravo (Sociedad)||2.4||70.1|
|11. Palop (Sevilla)||2.3||71.2|
|12. Varas (Celta)||2.3||69.7|
|13. Munúa (Levante)||2.2||68.5|
|14. Roberto (Zaragoza)||2.0||66.7|
|15. Rubén (Rayo)||2.0||66.7|
|16. Casillas (Real)||1.9||66.0|
|17. Aouate (Mallorca)||1.9||65.6|
|18. Alves (Valencia)||1.8||63.4|
|19. Valdés (Barça)||1.7||64.5|
|20. Aranzubia (Deportivo)||1.4||58.2|
Kevin Trapp isn't just kicker's highest rated goalkeeper, but the second best player overall.
Even though, the consensus pick for the Bundesliga's best keeper this season would be René Adler, Trapp has proven his potential with a string of marvelous performances.
To think he was rated the worst keeper by the same publication last season.
It shows the value of hard work and dedication.
Though, he's just one of many German keepers who are playing at an elite standard this season:
Adler (Hamburg, 28), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich, 26), Fabian Giefer (Fortuna Düsseldorf, 22), Oliver Baumann (Freiburg, 22), Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen, 20), Sven Ulreich (Stuttgart, 24), Marc-André ter Stegen (Borussia Mönchengladbach, 20)
Last March, I ranked Marc-André ter Stegen as the No. 1 goalkeeper in Europe, but he hasn't continued his brilliant form this season.
The club lost Dante to Bayern Munich, who on form is the best centre-back right now.
Roman Neustädter won back possession 6.4 times per league game, the best on the team. He left for Schalke.
Dante, Neustädter and Ter Stegen were main factors in Borussia Mönchengladbach conceding the second least amount of goals (24; behind Bayern Munich's 22).
It's not like Marc-André has sunk to the depths of Koen Casteels, it's just that the BMG goalkeeper hasn't lived up to the high expectations (and perhaps unrealistic) standards he set last season.
Ter Stegen was so dominant that he was lauded as Oliver Kahn 2.0.
Simon Mignolet and Jussi Jääskeläinen have been the two exceptional goalkeepers in the Premier League this season.
Both are the only keepers in the league with 85+ saves and a saves per goal conceded of 3.0 or higher.
Jussi is 37 years old whilst Mignolet is only 24.
Some football fans, namely Chelsea supporters, hype up Thibaut Courtois even though his compatriot Simon is a better keeper.
Right now, if Barcelona had to choose between the two, there's no contest—it would be Mignolet all the way.
Courtois has performed his worst against Barça, so why would they sign him?
Remember, he is a Chelsea player, so management believe he is the heir apparent to Petr Čech.
Valencia are blessed to have two keepers who can pull off world-class displays: Diego Alves and Vicente Guaita.
Alves had a meteoric start to the season but has since declined.
Yes, it's a small sample size, but Vicente Guaita's saves per goal conceded is 3.7, and he has a 78.6 save percentage—bettering La Liga's best keeper this season in Willy Caballero.
Guaita is also comfortable when in possession, completing 66.7 percent of passes in La Liga, which is 4.7 percent more accurate than Víctor Valdés.
Bleacher Report La Liga columnist Michael Cerna said (via B/R):
All the talk has been about David de Gea since his move to Manchester, but Vicente Guaita is the best Spanish keeper at 25-years-old or younger.
His save percentage was the best in La Liga last year and one of the tops in Europe. His shots saved per game also ranks among the best in the business.
Vicente would be the smart pick to replace Víctor Valdés.
Whilst Barcelona are looking for a No. 1, they should start scouting centre-backs.
Mats Hummels, Angelo Ogbonna, Timm Klose and Philipp Wollscheid are all viable candidates.
Kurt Zouma and Bruno Martins Indi are two up and comers with world-class upside.
Follow up on Matthias Ginter and Terence Kongolo when they return from long-term injuries.
Barça should always look to improve, so this means no more makeshift centre-backs.
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