‘Van Gaal is like a father to me’ – Why Barcelona legend Victor Valdes flopped at Manchester United?
The former Spain goalkeeper had a career as close to the imagination as it gets, but his move to Old Trafford turned out to be a disaster.
In the grand scheme of things, Victor Valdes had a career as close as possible to the imagination.
His list of honors at Barcelona – six La Liga titles, two Copas del Rey, three Champions League crowns and a pair of Club World Cups – is exceptional, and the game’s legends, from Xavi to Lionel Messi, do could not say more praise.
Sadly, therefore, is that the coda of his career was defined by fallout in the locker room, inuspicious loans and, ultimately, retirement at age 35 – which is relatively young for a goalkeeper. goal.
Valdes signed for Manchester United in January 2014 on a free transfer, following his release by Barcelona the previous summer.
He had announced a year earlier that he would leave Barca after his contract expired and was due to sign for Monaco, but they withdrew after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in March.
However, they agreed to pay part of his United salary and he moved to Old Trafford on an 18-month contract, apparently replacing David De Gea.
Valdes initially seemed happy to play second violin to the young Spaniard, recounting MUTV : “Still in my career, I played to help my teammates, to help my coach and to help everyone. I’m part of the team.
“I think now, at the moment, De Gea is the best goalkeeper in the world.”
However, we are talking about the goalkeeper of the greatest club team of all time, Barcelona of Pep Guardiola. He was never going to want to sit on the bench forever.
He made his debut with a Man Utd shirt for the U21s in a 2-1 win over Liverpool. While he was praised for giving an inspiring speech from Guardiola’s playbook ahead of the game, the fact that he conceded the only effort he faced against the target was of much importance though. bigger.
Towards the end of the 2014-15 campaign, Valdes made his first two appearances for the senior squad, which included a start – and a clean sheet – in United’s last Premier League game of the season, against Hull.
At the time, it looked like a changing of the guard. Valdes looked set to take over as United’s No.1 given that first-choice striker De Gea was seriously courted by Real Madrid.
However, there was one major obstacle in Valdès’ path – a very large and stubborn obstacle.
United manager Louis van Gaal had brought Valdes to Old Trafford, the duo having previously worked together at Camp Nou. It was van Gaal who had taken Valdes out of La Masia and placed him in Barca’s first team in the early 2000s.
However, they had a tumultuous relationship, with Valdes even dropped in reserves at one point. It wouldn’t be long before they collide again.
The manager transferred Valdes in the summer of 2015, alleging he refused to play in a reserve game, although Valdes disputed this claim. There were also reports of Valdes and Van Gaal seen arguing in front of other team members.
Valdes quickly became persona non grata when it came to Van Gaal and the former Spain international could have left at the end of the transfer window, with a move to Besiktas lined up.
However, the move never materialized and Valdes ended up being left out of the squad photo for the following season, in addition to being stripped of his dressing room.
Technically he was still a member of United’s Premier League squad, but it was clear he would never play for United again under Van Gaal.
Valdes therefore agreed to join Standard Liège on loan in January 2016, before joining Middlesbrough at the end of the season.
He only spent a year at Teeside before retiring. Valdes, however, refused to blame Van Gaal for the ill-fated end to his brilliant career.
“I feel like a professional goalkeeper again after all these difficult days in Manchester,” he said. Sky Sports in 2016. “But I don’t have bad words for Van Gaal or Manchester United.
“He’s like a father figure to me. I don’t want to remember the last six months in a bad way – to me he’s great. We’re still friends and there is no problem between us.”
Sometimes, however, parents and their children like it better from a distance, and it certainly seems to have been the case with Valdes and Van Gaal.
Here are some of the other articles from Goals Forgotten Men Series: