Football

Andres Iniesta says Victor Valdes feels like a player again at Manchester United

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Manchester United’s second-choice goalkeeper Victor Valdes feels like a footballer again since joining the Red Devils, according to Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta.

Valdes has yet to make his Manchester United debut after signing a permanent contract in January, but has appeared for the club’s Under-21 side.

And Iniesta is pleased that his close friend is happier now he is no longer a free agent after leaving the Camp Nou last summer.

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Iniesta: Valdes feels like a player again

"Valdes was an important member of the dressing room,” Iniesta revealed in an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca. “I’m really pleased that, after having had such a hard time with a number of things, he's back to feeling like a player again".

Iniesta grew up alongside Valdes in Barcelona’s famous La Masia youth academy and both made their professional debuts together in 2002 under current Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal.

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Iniesta is a close friend of Valdes

Iniesta, who scored the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final for Spain, even admitted in December 2013 that he would cry when Valdes eventually left Barcelona because of their strong friendship.

But the world-class attacking midfielder feels content knowing that Valdes has found a new club and appears to be happy.

Valdes could replace De Gea next season

That David de Gea is still yet to put pen-to-paper on a contract extension with Manchester United - his current deal expires in the summer of 2016 - means speculation is rife that the goalkeeper above Valdes in the pecking order at Old Trafford could join Real Madrid this summer.

Should De Gea leave then Valdes could find himself promoted to the role of Manchester United’s first-choice goalkeeper in time for the start of the 2015-16 campaign.

The 33-year-old signed an 18-month deal on arrival at Old Trafford, but his lack of first-team football since his Barcelona departure might be a slight cause for concern for Van Gaal.

Match practice, however, is less of an issue for goalkeepers compared to outfield players - and as long as the Spaniard remains focused and confident he could be a more than adequate replacement for De Gea in the short term.

Valdes is criminally underrated

Valdes’s role in the great Barcelona side of Pep Guardiola is often understated; he would often instigate moves from the back thanks to his excellent control and passing ability.

With Van Gaal keen to implement a similar possession-based style at Old Trafford, it’s imperative that Manchester United have a goalkeeper comfortable with the ball at his feet - and there are few better ‘keepers in world football on the deck than Valdes.

Manchester United fans: would you be happy if Victor Valdes replaced David de Gea this summer? Or would the Red Devils need another top goalkeeper? Have your say in the comments below!

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
David de Gea
Andres Iniesta
Manchester United
Victor Valdes
Barcelona

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