Victor Valdes is in line to make his Manchester United debut this Friday night in the FA Cup match at Cambridge United. Will that be the start for his quest to replace David de Gea as United number one?
He was born to be a number one, they said. And actually, he was the first choice goalkeeper of Barcelona 2008-2012, the arguably best team in history.
He, however, still has some of his big dreams never been fulfilled. Not because he is not good enough. Just because destiny does not want that to happen. Just because of sheer bad luck.
Valdes deserves more chances with Spain
A goalkeeper of Valdes' talent should get a place in the starting line-up of every team. He, however, has never been given the place he deserves in Spain national football team, even though his most glorious time with Barcelona of Guardiola coincided with the golden era of the La Roja, from 2008 to 2012.
It is because in the national team, the man Valdes has to compete is Iker Casillas. The Real Madrid goalkeeper is widely considered the best goalkeeper in Spanish football history. And, after Raul's retirement, he was made captain of the team. No coach dares to bench the team's captain, even when he is not playing well.
And when Valdes seemed to finally have a chance, as Casillas lost his first-team place at Real Madrid before World Cup 2014, there came a disaster. Valdes injured himself seriously in a match against Celta Vigo in March 2014, ruled out for at least six months, and never had a chance to feature as a number-one goalkeeper in a World Cup.
AS Monaco move scuppered
The serious knee injury also scuppered cruelly Valdes' plan for a fond farewell to Barcelona. And his future, too. Valdes reportedly had a pre-contract with Monaco, which would be made official at the end of last season. But the Ligue 1 side decided to pull off after Valdes' injury. Suddenly, one of the best, if not the best, goalkeeper in Barcelona history became "homeless".
Valdes, however, is feeling happy again. Last month, Manchester United, where Valdes stayed and trained since November 2014 during the final phase of his rehabilitation, offered him a 18-month contract. Valdes is expected to be a good back-up for his Spanish compatriot goalkeeper, David de Gea. A good number... two!
David de Gea
De Gea's positon in Manchester United is now very concrete, following his superb performances from the start of this season. He has been the only player to play every single minute of Van Gaal’s 24 matches in charge so far. And he is expecting a new deal, which will make him one of the best paid player in the team.
Valdes himself believes that De Gea is the best goalkeeper in the world. And he says he is not at Manchester United to compete with the former Atletico Madrid's man.
However, do not let yourself be fooled by Valdes' diplomatic quotes. He will not satisfy with a number-two role. He is here to put pressure on De Gea.
Victor Valdes' quest to replace De Gea as Manchester United No.1 will begin on Friday night. He is expected to make his Reds debut at Cambridge United in the FA Cup.
In his last full match, he was playing in front of 85,000 at Bernabeu in El Clasico with Real Madrid. On Friday night, if he is picked, Valdes will play in a just 9,500-capacity stadium. It can be seen as a huge disappointment for the 33-year-old.
But it can mark the start of United’s strongest senior keeper battle ever.