One can only put it down to the fact Victor Valdes has spent his entire professional career, up until last summer, playing in La Liga.
On arrival at Manchester United this week, the 32-year-old said something that would have been expected had he just completed a move to either Barcelona or Real Madrid: he hailed one of his teammates as the best in the world.
"I think now, in the moment, David [De Gea] is the best goalkeeper in the world," Valdes told MUTV. "His performance every day and in every game shows everybody that his level is very high. He has had a great year and it is very nice. Now, I think he is the best goalkeeper in the world."
De Gea is not the world's best
Sycophantic or Valdes’ genuine belief? It’s hard to tell - but, whichever category the comment belongs in, the former Barcelona star is wide of the mark.
Not by much, admittedly. De Gea is now one of the world’s best goalkeepers - and has been for the past 18 months or so now. The 24-year-old has come on leaps and bounds since joining the Red Devils from Atletico Madrid in 2011 and thoroughly deserves all the plaudits coming his way this season.
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Real Madrid move possible
He also deserves, should his heart desire, a move to Real Madrid this summer. Neither Iker Casillas or Keylor Navas are in the same class as Manchester United’s current No. 1, who is faced with an extremely difficult decision to make.
Does he stick with the club who have helped transform him into the world-class ‘keeper he is today - or does he join the world’s biggest club in the hope of finishing his career with as many winners’ medals as possible?
Over the next few years De Gea may well cement his status as the world’s best, but for now he finds himself behind at least two superb goalkeepers.
Thibaut Courtois and Manuel Neuer
One is currently plying his trade with Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois - and the other has a chance of beating Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to the 2014 Ballon d’Or: Manuel Neuer.
While Neuer is widely regarded as the best player in his position at present - an opinion enhanced by his eye-catching sweeper-keeper antics, rather than his actual goalkeeping skills - the magnificent Courtois is arguably the better all-rounder.
The Belgian, who was unbelievably good for Atletico Madrid last season, is certainly a better goalkeeper than De Gea. Nobody commands their penalty area as good as the 22-year-old, whose distribution and decision-making skills are also first class.
While Valdes was clearly trying to get in his teammates’ good books, his answer to the question ‘who is the world’s best goalkeeper’ would have been very different six months ago - and rightly so.
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