In an act which Catalan paper Sport described as betrayal at the time, Victor Valdes recently announced his decision to not renew his contract which has just over 12 months to run.
Betrayal not because they thought that no player should ever leave Barcelona—although they may think that too—but because of the timing. Why the need to tell everyone you wouldn't renew almost 18 months before expiration?
It hadn't been an issue gripping the press.
The path Valdes has chosen to take may seem strange to some. It may even seem strange to him, particularly when you look at his passionate reaction to Barca's La Liga Clasico loss. Or if he takes a second to think about Tuesday night's special win over AC Milan.
But the consensus seems to be the 31-year-old wants to prove himself elsewhere. In over a decade of service to La Blaugrana he's never quite won the plaudits which he'd like to think he's deserving of.
Five Zamora Trophies—for most clean sheets in Spain over a season—five La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues, they say, would have been won with or without Valdes. They're probably right, but Barca need a goalkeeper more than is suggested.
And in Valdes, Pep Guardiola found someone who could adhere to his system—a 'keeper who could take the ball at the back and play like a sweeper, distributing short passes to the centre-backs, full-backs or deep-lying midfielders.
Of course he's made his fair share of errors; not many players haven't. It just seems that they become highlighted when it's a goalkeeper who makes them.
So now La Blaugrana must make finding Valdes' replacement their No. 1 priority this summer. It seems unlikely he'll run down his contract, each day a new newspapers say he will clinch a move to Arsenal—the latest being the Daily Mail.
The credentials are seemingly beyond just being a good shot stopper or cross collector, they extend to being comfortable playing football from the back.
Spanish paper Marca reported that Borussia Monchengladbach 'keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen had already done a deal with the Catalans—the 20-year-old's representatives swiftly denied any such deal (via Goal.com).
Liverpool's Pepe Reina is another linked (via the Telegraph), but would Barca fancy bringing him back after letting him go over 10 years ago? Distribution wise, he's perhaps the best fit at the moment.
Thibaut Courtois, who's excelled on loan at Atletico Madrid, is another name in the hat. Chelsea's reluctance to see a player with his potential, and who they paid $10 million for, leave could prove a stumbling block.
One surprisingly popular option seems to be Valencia's Vicente Guaita. The 26-year-old would have no problems moving up the Spanish coast, and Los Che would welcome any money for his sale.
Or perhaps Valdes' replacement could come from left field? It's unlikely to come from within.
Who would you like to see become Barcelona's new goalkeeper?
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