Liverpool's Pursuit of Victor Valdes Heaps Healthy Competition on Simon Mignolet

Max MuntonLiverpool CorrespondentSeptember 3, 2014

FC Barcelona's goalkeeper Victor Valdes warms up before a Spanish La Liga soccer match against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Sunday March 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul White)
Paul White/Associated Press

Former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes will soon be a Liverpool player, if Anthony Chapman of the Daily Express is to be believed. It would, in short, be a very useful acquisition for Brendan Rodgers' side.

It's a match made in heaven. Liverpool, in their pursuit of Premier League and Champions League honours, need a back-up goalkeeper of a higher calibre than Brad Jones, who is the last remains of the Roy Hodgson era at Anfield. Valdes wants a new challenge after a medal-decorated career at the Camp Nou.

Furthermore, Valdes is a goalkeeper who could challenge Simon Mignolet for his first-team place. Healthy competition would prevent the Belgian international from becoming complacent and comfortable with his currently untouchable starting berth.



Jon Super/Associated Press

The mainstay of Barcelona's goal for the last 12 years, Valdes comes from a generation of supremely talented Spanish goalkeepers—the likes of Iker Casillas and Pepe Reina restricting him to just 20 caps for Spain.

Amounting 535 appearances for one of the giants of world football is no mean feat, and he would bring with him to Liverpool a wealth of valuable experience.

His medal collection is outstanding—thee Champions League titles, six times La Liga winner, not to mention domestic cups, the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.

This Valdes love-in isn't to say he would waltz straight into Liverpool and oust Mignolet from his place in goal, but question marks do remain over the Reds' shot-stopper.


Pressure on Mignolet

Rui Vieira/Associated Press

Mignolet was part of a defence that shipped in 50 goals in the Premier League alone last season, and when at fault for goals, he struggled to dust himself off with any urgency.

Liverpool appear to have lost the presence in goal that Reina gave the team prior to Mignolet's arrival from Sunderland last summer.

Nevertheless, Mignolet's agility and age are on his side. At 26 years old, Mignolet is a goalkeeper Rodgers can mould to work with the team's strategies. Rodgers may just wish Mignolet was moulding a bit more quickly.

That's where 32-year-old Valdes comes in—his impressive statistics as part of Barcelona's setup throughout the introduction of tiki-taka at the club will keep Mignolet on his toes.

Comparing the two goalkeepers in 2013-14, Valdes made 14.7 passes per game, only two of which were long-range. Mignolet, meanwhile, made 7.7 long-range passes per game.

For a team under Rodgers' stewardship that plays a possession-based, passing game, Mignolet's frequent long balls may not be tolerated much longer.

From eight years with Reina in goal, with the footwork of an outfield player, Liverpool felt the pinch of Mignolet's subpar distribution.

It was no secret that Reina's permanent departure to Bayern Munich this summer was at least partially due to relationship problems with Rodgers.

Valdes would likely be on similar wages to that of his compatriot and would give Liverpool a charismatic and proven goalkeeper.

Currently rehabilitating an anterior cruciate ligament tear in his right knee, Valdes may not be fit for action until December, as per Simon Jones of the Daily Mail, giving Mignolet time to fine-tune his game without fear of being cut from the team.

By signing Valdes, Liverpool would benefit from both the heightened competition for Mignolet and the addition of an experienced player to the squad.