The deterioration of Víctor Valdés: From Barcelona hero to Manchester United outcast

When thinking back and recalling Pep Guardiola’s legendary Barcelona side of 2008-2012, star names are obviously commonplace.

From arguably the best player to have ever played the sport in Lionel Messi to Blaugrana hero Xavi , key figures and role they played in an astounding period of success for the Catalans are consistently lauded.

However, one man to be an ever-present in Barcelona’s prolific period under Guardiola has fallen by the wayside and his importance to that iconic team has almost been forgotten.

A statement by modest Belgian side Standard Liège yesterday stated that the Pro League outfit would send Víctor Valdés back to parent club Manchester United with immediate effect, with the goalkeeper’s underwhelming stint in central Europe coming to an abrupt end.

With six La Liga crowns, three Champions Leagues and a World Cup winner’s medal taking pride of place in the custodian’s venerable list of silverware, Valdés should be looked upon as one of the best of a generation.

However, despite his role at Camp Nou being justifiably enough to give him more success than almost any other professional will achieve over the space of a career, there is a feeling that the goalkeeper has been somewhat unlucky.

Regardless of his form and role at Barcelona, the best team on the planet for a number of years, Valdés can boast only 20 international caps for Spain.

These La Roja outings came predominantly on the smaller stage as Iker Casillas was entrusted to captain and keep in a Spain side whose success mimicked Barcelona with three consecutive major tournament wins under Vicente del Bosque.

As such, when both goalkeepers’ careers finish, it will arguably be Casillas that is remembered with more distinction than Valdés – despite the latter boasting considerably more club success.

Víctor ValdésWhen the 34-year-old opted to leave boyhood club Barcelona in 2014, it was with the ambition of broadening his horizons and experiencing football and life outside of Catalonia.

A host of players, both young and old, have suffered contrasting fortunes after leaving Camp Nou but Valdés was understandably confident of making an impression elsewhere.

However, a cruel cruciate ligament injury robbed him the opportunity to hit the ground running at a new club – in fact, it robbed him the ability to even find a new club given that he was hamstrung and needed substantial rehabilitation.

Eventually Manchester United made the move to sign the Spain international but the stopper’s time in England has been forgettable to say the least.

Again a distinguished countryman stood in his path and prevented Valdés from being centrestage, and the irony of Casillas’ international successor David De Gea claiming superiority will not be lost on the former Barcelona man.

A fallout with Louis van Gaal and months on the sidelines playing no competitive action have taken the lustre off Valdés’ career, while injury struck again while he was in Belgium.

Out of contract this summer and certain to leave Old Trafford, the Spaniard is at a crossroads.

Most would wish Valdés a move to a club where he will play regularly and regain some pride and distinction before retiring.

Wherever he ends up no-one can rob the goalkeeper of his achievements and success at Barcelona, but his decision to leave the Catalan club may well be something he regrets both now and whenever he calls it quits in professional football.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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