With a run that would have made Usain Bolt proud, he ran to the centre circle with one objective: to vent his fury. ‘Os habéis cagado, no tienes vergüenza' (You s**t yourself, have you no shame!) he screamed and screamed. Teammates and opposition players looked on in shock, so too did millions of spectators and eventually he had to be pushed off the pitch by a club official but the story didn’t stop there for Victor Valdés, who is said to be a summer target of Arsenal.
A few minutes later Twitter went into overdrive as a journalist reported that Valdés, who has been at Barca since he was kid, had punched referee Miguel Angel Pérez Lasa in the tunnel, had been arrested and was on his way to a police station. As the original tweet was translated into more languages than Harry Potter, nobody questioned why none of the other journalists at the game were talking about it and how the manager’s press conferences went ahead as normal. The truth soon came out that it was all bogus but it led to the question of why it was so easily believed. The reason is simple, Valdés is known for his passion and determination and those reasons, plus a few more, are why Arsenal want to bring the Catalan shot stopper to the Emirates.
Valdés joined Barca in 1992 but had to move to Tenerife with his family soon after but in 1995 he was back at the Camp Nou. In 2002 he was 2nd choice keeper behind Roberto Bonano and when the club signed Robert Enke, it looked like his games would be limited. These were dark days at Barca with the club behind Valencia and Real Madrid. He made his way into the first team and hasn’t been moved since. A new dawn was happening in Catalonia. The club started to use their Cantera and players like Messi, Iniesta and of course Valdés joined other youth team products such as Puyol and Xavi in the first team. He has kept the Barca goal for almost ten years and so for that more than a few eyebrows were raised when he announced that he wasn’t going to renew his contract.
Suddenly someone who had been praised for his love of the club was having his loyalty questioned. Valdés said that he wanted to test himself in another league. He was blamed for a sudden downfall in fortune. Barca started to perform badly and Valdés was having his performances questioned. Was the love still there they asked? Against Real Madrid, they saw that it truly was.
Valdés is a warrior. Images of him berating his defenders for not working as a unit are common. Puyol marshals the Barca defence but the man that is called the ‘shark’ has been on the receiving end of a few ear bashings from his keeper. If as rumoured that The Gunners will attempt to battle with Monaco for his services it must be music to fans ears. Even if his side are winning four or five nil, a lapse of concentration at Barca means one thing; a b***ocking from the No. 1. He holds no prisoners and there are no exceptions. A few years back he had a row with Barca’s No. 2 at the Vicente Calderon because he wasn’t taking the warm up seriously. For Victor, you must give 100% all the time.
For years the debate in Spain has gone on about who was the better keeper. Iker Casillas or Valdés. It was said that both keepers couldn’t be in the same squad and for that reason, the Barca keeper missed out on several call ups. Coach Vicente Del Bosque disagreed with this and called him up. He now has a World Cup and European Championship winners medal. In July 2012 one Catalan paper claimed that it was the first time that the best goalkeeper in the world had won a medal without playing a single minute.
The argument rages on. In terms of silverware Valdés slightly takes top spot. So far he has won 20 major trophies at club level. On an individual level he has won the Zamora award, an award handed out for the keeper that has conceded the least amount of goals, for the past four years in a row. What is even more impressive is that last year Barca were forced to use central midfielders as centre backs as both Puyol and Gerard Pique were injured. Although there were plenty of touch and go moments, it speaks volumes for the keeper’s organisation skills that he was still able to keep so many clean sheets. But can he hack it in England?
For Arsenal this could really be a catch. That said when a keeper of this quality comes onto the market; he will have plenty of suitors. Don’t rule out United, City or even Liverpool taking a look at the Leo Messi of the goalkeeping world. In England he may be more remembered for his error a few years back in the Champions League against Liverpool but he is solid, dependable and not fazed by the moment. All his life he has been written off and he just keeps proving people wrong, time and time again.
Arsenal need him badly. He would offer the voice of a leader on the pitch that hasn’t been seen since the days of Adams or Vieria. He would offer experience between the sticks that has been missing since the era of David Seaman and he brings a winning mentality that is non-existent. Get the chequebook out Ivan - Players like this don’t come around too often.