Víctor Valdés and assessing a back-up role at Manchester United

When deciding upon the safest pair of hands in the Premier League, few could argue with David De Gea’s place in this season’s PFA Team of the Year.

Yes, Hugo Lloris, Joe Hart and Thibaut Courtois have all had strong seasons, but the Manchester United number one has been consistently brilliant for a team that has had contrasting fortunes throughout 2014-15.

The young Spaniard’s future is up in the air currently, with his current deal at Old Trafford getting alarmingly close to its expiry.

As such, and with Real Madrid said to be looking for a long-term replacement for Iker Casillas, United fans will have their fingers crossed that De Gea will extend his stay with the historic English club.

However, should the worst case scenario emerge and the custodian desire a move back to his homeland, United have a distinguished and experienced back-up option in the form of Víctor Valdés.

The former Barcelona stopper has had a massively colourful career but has become something of a forgotten man over the last 12 months.

The 33-year-old has not been afforded the opportunity to feature in the Premier League since signing for the Old Trafford outfit, with back-up status well-and-truly ascertained.

Despite De Gea’s future claiming the column inches in the newspapers, the best plan of action for Valdés ahead of next season is worthy of contemplation also.

At 33, Valdés still has a number of years of first-team football in his locker and it would be a real shame to see him given limited chances to play for the remainder of his career.

With De Gea the man in form and not likely to be dropped any time soon, even his compatriot stars in training, Valdés will be scratching his head wondering when the next chance to play will come about.

However, the ex-Barcelona man’s current deal with United expires next summer at the same time as De Gea, with the elder statesman of the two needing to assess his options carefully.

Although United have given the stopper an opportunity following a serious knee injury, Valdés needs to prioritise the opportunity to play in his remaining years.

Victor ValdésFor someone of such pedigree to accept a position as a back-up at a major club for the rest of his days would be a severe lack of ambition.

Valdés was a stalwart in a number of Barcelona teams, winning six La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues; there is no reason to suggest that his record of success cannot be extended further.

The former Camp Nou favourite has been in a back-up position before, at national level, where he was forced to watch on from the sidelines as Casillas was repeatedly entrusted with La Roja’s number one jersey.

Given his level of success at club level, the fact that he only has 20 international caps will surely be a frustration for Valdés.

Ironically, it could well be the end of Casillas’ reign at Real Madrid that allows Valdés his next opportunity if the European champions move for De Gea.

If the young Spaniard does defy reported interest from the Spanish capital and extend his stay in Manchester, it should be the cue for Valdés to do the opposite.

For a keeper of such quality and distinction, a swansong where he can play week-in, week-out and fight for honours seems fitting; whether that is at Old Trafford or not remains to be seen.

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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