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Man United Sign Former Barcelona Keeper Victor Valdes; Liverpool Fans Tear Their Hair Out

In news that was met by a collective groan across the red half of Merseyside, Manchester United have signed former Barcelona and Spain goalkeeper Victor Valdes on a free transfer. The 32-year old – a relative spring chicken in goalkeeping terms – has signed an 18-month contract with the stated intention of being David de Gea’s back-up, and is reunited with former Barca manager Louis van Gaal. Valdes had been training with the Red Devils since October, as he sought to overcome a knee injury.

All of which must have made pretty depressing reading for Liverpool fans. Currently reliant on the once "indefinitely" dropped Simon Mignolet, they have a very clear and obvious need for a proven, competent goalkeeper in which Brendan Rodgers’ defense can put its faith, and they’ve just missed a slam dunk: Valdes is a man whose neck must ache from the weight of all his La Liga and Champions League medals – nine in total – not to mention his five Zamora Trophies (awarded in Spain each season to the ‘keeper with the lowest goals to games ratio) and two La Liga Goalkeeper of the Year awards. While Valdes is by no means perfect, and played much of his Barca career behind a dominant outfield unit, he’s nevertheless renowned for his organizational skills, concentration levels and composure on the ball: all key traits Brendan Rodgers holds highly, is in desperate need of and could have secured for absolutely nothing.

Remember Rodgers' argument that the difference between his teams and others is "when we have the ball we play with 11 men, other teams play with 10 and a goalkeeper?" Consider these words from an interview Valdes gave two years ago about his time with Barca: “The team are so attacking and the goalkeeper has to be part of that. Guardiola always told me that I should participate in the team’s play, he helped me interpret football. There were times that I played like a libero under him.” Sounds like a match made in footballing heaven to our uneducated ears.

In summary, it’s yet another black mark against the rightly maligned Liverpool transfer committee, who authorised the $16m acquisition of The Hapless Simon Mignolet (his full title) and the subsequent sale of the perfectly competent Pepe Reina (who, incidently, describes Valdes as "the greatest goalkeeper in Barcelona's history"). We could go on about how Valdes - in what was a bad year by Barca standards - kept more clean sheets than Mignolet last season, made more saves per game or kicked fewer long-ball clearances. But in summary, we’ll just say that – so far as we’ve seen – Victor Valdes has never done this on a football pitch:

If Liverpool didn’t try to sign Valdes, more serious questions need to be asked about how their transfer targets are drawn up. But if try they did - as they're rumored to have done - it’s a very sad reflection indeed on a once-great footballing institution when a world class goalkeeper like Victor Valdes chooses to go and warm the bench at Old Trafford instead of playing first-team football at Anfield. 

Maybe Brendan Rodgers will go and prove us all wrong between now and the end of January by pulling a Petr Cech-shaped rabbit out of his conjurer's hat, but we very much doubt it.

You can follow Robert Gordon (@robert_gordon19) on Twitter here.

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