Victor Valdes left the field against Celta Vigo on a stretcher last weekend, and his Barcelona career is essentially now over after it was confirmed he suffered cruciate ligament damage.
As per BBC Sport, Valdes will be out for around seven months, meaning not only is his final campaign at Barcelona ended early, but he will also miss the forthcoming 2014 World Cup and will not return until next season, 2014-15, has already begun.
With more than 500 club appearances to his name, he will go down as one of the most successful players Barça have had, but both club and national team careers in Spain are likely over now as both look to the future.
Barca, and Valdes' Transfer
Knowing already that Valdes intended to leave this summer, Barcelona have had over a year to put plans in place to replace him. The most likely replacement appears to still be Marc-Andre ter Stegen, the Borussia Moenchengladbach keeper, who Goal.com claim has already agreed a £10 million move to the Catalan club.
Valdes, meanwhile, seemingly had his options wide open to seek a move abroad in summer.
The Independent linked him with a move to AS Monaco in Ligue 1, a strong and oft-repeated rumour, while Sky Sports indicated that the player was keen on a move to the Premier League, where Arsenal have been among those interested in his services.
However, Metro report that Manchester City were interested—only to drop their plans after the goalkeeper's injury. It remains to be seen whether others will follow suit, but it seems unlikely that Valdes will have a problem moving, considering he is on a free and could already have been discussing a transfer since January.
For a long time, the established order of things in the national-team set-up has seen Iker Casillas as the No. 1, with Victor Valdes and Pepe Reina battling it out as the back-up and reserve at major tournaments.
However, this World Cup could be the last with that order, even without Valdes now.
Pepe Reina is only on loan at Napoli and is, beyond all doubt, no longer required at parent club Liverpool. With his future uncertain, it remains to be seen if a Champions League team will pick him up—perhaps Atletico Madrid if Thibaut Courtois finally ends his loan spell—or if he looks elsewhere.
Casillas himself, of course, has not been No. 1 at club level for 18 months. He must surely leave Real, be reinstated as No. 1...or eventually lose his long-standing position as the national-team goalkeeper. Even if he continues, though, he has other challengers ready to be his back-up.
Diego Lopez has usurped him at Real as the regular goalkeeper and deserves a run in the national squad as a result, while David de Gea continues his growth as an all-around goalkeeper at Manchester United and is almost without doubt the next long-term Spanish No. 1. Both could find themselves in the squad after the World Cup—and one will likely travel to Brazil as third-choice, following Valdes' injury.
Should he come back from injury strongly and be playing at a high level—in the Champions League with Monaco, say—then Valdes could certainly make a return to the squad in time. But he'll be 34 by the time Euro 2016 rolls around, and Spain have other options to turn to for that tournament.
He's been a great servant to Barcelona, and there is more to come in his final years at the top, but Valdes' untimely injury has likely brought to a close two long chapters of his career.
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