Having decided to look for a different challenge in his career in 2015, former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes got much less than what he bargained for.
His tale of rise and fall has become an unbelievable story of world-class goalkeeper being thrown on the margins by karma, misfortune and failed expectations.
Victor Valdes was the mainstay in Pep Guardiola’s team from 2008 to 2012, one of few men to be an ever-present during Blaugrana’s most successful period in recent history.
Child of the club, famous academy’s product, Victor Valdes went from playing for Barcelona C and B to sealing his place between the sticks in the first team in 2002. Twelve year later the Spanish shot stopper decided that it was just the right time to look for a different challenge as he had decided not to extend his contract with the Catalans.
The fans’ eyebrows were raised upon the realisation that one of the most important players in the team got tired of playing for his childhood club and his decision to leave Camp Nou at the end of his contract in 2014 had been met with utter disappointment.
Having defended his goal to six La Liga crowns, three Champions League titles and a World Cup winner’s medal, Victor Valdes had been looked upon as one of the best members of his generation and it was easy to see why Barcelona supporters got so disappointed to see the custodian leave.
With a host of players having endured contrasting fortunes upon leaving Camp Nou, Victor Valdes stands as perhaps the most distinguished one.
Some will argue his demise had plenty to do with bad luck and karma as Valdes decided to turn his back on his beloved club who are standing at the odds of 1/3 to be crowned La Liga champions once again, but it is an undeniable fact that his cruciate ligament injury could not have come at the worse moment.
A huge set back occurred just at the time when Valdes was supposed to find his new club. The Spanish international was forced to focus on the tedious process of rehabilitation instead of searching for new surroundings.
The Spanish goalkeeper’s career at Barca was ended prematurely, with his injury happening during a 3-0 victory over Celta de Vigo in March.
To make things even worse, the experienced keeper was ruled out of the 2014 FIFA Wold Cup when he was deprived of a chance to make a name for himself at the international level. Despite his fantastic form throughout Barcelona career, Valdes was never the first La Roja choice, standing in the shadow of Iker Casillas, Spain’s captain and irreplaceable choice on the goal line.
Just 20 international caps for the keeper of his calibre is simply insufficient, but karma made sure Victor Valdes Spain’s career was ended as well, much to disappointment of even those who had been angry at the time of his departure from Barcelona.
Victor Valdes was offered a chance to complete his rehabilitation at Manchester United in October 2014.
It was a kind and a fortunate offer from the Premier League club, but fortune did not last for long. Valdes signed an 18-month deal with the option of a further year in January 2015 and played his first match the same month.
Having served as a deputy for his compatriot David de Gea for months, getting sparing chance to play, Victor Valdes had been placed on the transfer list in July, just months after he signed a deal with the club.
An unfortunate fallout with the temperamental manager Louis van Gaal cost Valdes any further chance of making an impact in England, with Valdes losing credibility over his decision not to play for the reserve team.
Things went from bad to worse as Valdes was not given a squad number for the new season and it was a clear message of intent from Dutch manager.
The Spanish international left his comfort zone at Camp Nou in order to find a more challenging experience, but instead went from ruining his chance to become a meaningful Manchester United player to landing a loan deal with Standard Liege in less than a year’s time.
With no disrespect to the Belgian outfit, Standard Liege can hardly be considered an improvement to his most successful part of the career.
The pinnacle of his demise as a professional footballer came this week when Standard Liege announced that the 34-year-old’s loan spell was cut short and that Valdes is returning to Manchester United. Valdes helped the Belgian club win the national Cup in March, but his tenure has been widely described as unsuccessful.
Standard decided to focus on promoting youth players and serve a thank you note to the Spaniard.
Summer of 2016 will be of crucial importance to Victor Valdes, who is due to make a difficult choice at the late stage of his career. At 34 years of age, the Spanish international is not getting any younger and finding a proper environment at this stage will be a challenge of its own.
Where to for the former Barcelona key man?