Victor Valdes Leaves a Huge Hole in the Barcelona Net

Paul WilkesFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2014

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 12:  Victor Valdes of FC Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match between FC Barcelona and Manchester City at Camp Nou on March 12, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

It's common knowledge that Victor Valdes will be leaving Barcelona this summer, the 32-year old is seeking a fresh challenge after spending his entire senior career at the club.

Born in Catalonia, he signed for Barca at the age of 10, but he left after only two months because his family moved to Tenerife, via Wikipedia. Three years later he returned and this time he has lasted almost 20 years.

On Wednesday night he played his last game for the side, after picking up a knee injury which not only rules him out for the remainder of the season but also the World Cup. It was an unfortunate way to end his time at the Camp Nou.

Monaco seemed his likeliest destination when in an interview with Telefoot he confessed: "Ligue 1 really appeals to me," and stated "Monaco is a good option," via ESPN. His friendship with Eric Abidal was cited as a potential swaying factor.

Then there was interest recently from Manchester City, according to French newspaper L'Equipe via Alan Wilson of The Mirror.  Though, this appears to have cooled with his latest injury setback, via Jamie Sanderson The Metro.

At Barcelona they face the difficult task of life without their goalkeeper. Valdes really has been Mr Dependable for Blaugrana. He has regularly produced acrobatic saves to deny the opposition and displayed clever footwork and distribution.

He has helped them to five La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues; no keeper has won as many Zamora Trophies for clean sheets as the shot-stopper.

Replacing a long-standing successful goalkeeper is never an easy job. Manchester United is perhaps the greatest example of this in recent times. When Peter Schmeichel left in 1999 it took them six years to find a reliable player at the desired level. Sir Alex Ferguson used 10 different goalkeepers before the arrival of Edwin van der Sar, via The Telegraph.

That was about finding a keeper with a commanding presence, organisational skills and a winning mentality, as well as being a top all-round goalkeeper. For Barcelona it goes that bit further, Valdes is ingrained in the club's philosophy.

Whilst that has been watered down a little since the departure of Pep Guardiola, he still remains an integral part of this side. He is effectively another outfield player when in possession, due to his comfortable nature with the ball at his feet.

From now until the end of the season, second choice Jose Pinto will be between the sticks. He has become less reliable in recent years, but that has a large amount to do with how good Valdes is in general.

There is often a huge disparity between the first and second goalkeepers at most clubs; this is because the back-up option will usually rarely play. He knows that is the case and accepts his role in the squad.

If the keepers are of a similar level, as with Real Madrid, then both want to be No. 1. Carlo Ancelotti has dealt with that situation superbly but no one expects that to continue into next term.

What's more surprising with Pinto is that he isn't as comfortable in possession; the decision to make a pass back will no longer be a natural process, which in turn will cause problems in defence.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen is expected to fill the void in the long-term, with German daily Bild reporting that he has agreed a five-year deal and already passed his medical, via Alex Richards of The Daily Mirror.

The Borussia Monchengladbach keeper is adept at the sweeper-keeper role and is just 21 years old, so he could potentially hold down the position for years to come.

As David De Gea found out at Old Trafford, it's a big responsibility at such a young age to take over a coveted spot at one of Europe's biggest clubs. Supporters and the media alike isn't that patient, whilst Ter Stegen has made a number of high profile errors in the last 12 months.

If he has the strength of character to survive to go along with the physical attributes, then he will be some way toward covering for perhaps the greatest goalkeeper ever to play for Barcelona.