Victor Valdes has yet to make an appearance for Manchester United since he joined in October 2014.
His first few months' lack of appearances were due to his recovering from a knee injury, but after signing a contract in January, he has yet to appear for the first team.
He could have started at various points in the FA Cup, but Van Gaal chose De Gea for these games. So this begs the question: why he has been signed?
Perhaps it's obvious. Initially it was a kindness from the club to allow him to train and continue his rehabilitation after a bad knee injury, and then after impressing in training, was offered a contract to be David de Gea's backup.
It never hurts to have a quality keeper in reserve, but it does seem strange that someone of Valdes' quality is willing to not make a single appearance in six months since signing.
Does Valdes want to learn from Van Gaal?
Some might say that he was signed to prepare United for the departure of De Gea to Real Madrid, though as I have said before, I have my doubts about the veracity of these rumours.
However, this would explain his willingness to sit on the bench this season, if he has been told that he will be given his first team opportunity next year, though I believe this to be unlikely
Another scenario is that he is taking this opportunity to learn managerial skills from a manager he respects and who understands football the same way as he does, Van Gaal.
The Dutchman gave him his breakthrough at Barcelona, and this past relationship was likely a major factor in his signing of a contract.
Valdes was reported to have practiced his team talks, based on what he had learned from Guardiola, on the United Under-21 team in one of his appearances for them.
Planning for the future
This hints that he foresees himself going into management when he hangs up his boots, and he may see this as the perfect opportunity to not only learn management skills from one of the game's best managers in the past couple of decades, as well as improve his English speaking ability and gain a better understanding of football outside Barcelona.
Having a broad, first-hand knowledge of football is essential to going into management, and I believe this is the crucial reason behind his current stint at United.
Though I am sure next season he will want to be playing more first team football, at this stage in his career it makes sense for him to be looking beyond his playing career, and I am sure in many ways this novel situation will have given him valuable knowledge and experience of the English game, as well as letting him learn more managerial tactics from the coach who gave him his first team break through more than a decade ago now.
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