Champions League: Barcelona's Victor Valdes In Top Form as Exit Rumors Beckon

David Ramos

The Catalan goalkeeper is so far having a splendid season - a season he insists is his last before he finds a new home outside of Barcelona. Teams such as Arsenal are supposedly interested in his services, but for now, Valdes's focus has been only in keeping the Blaugrana goal clean.

Kolbelnn Sigthrsson struck it low and to the left corner but Victor Valdes, "the panther of L'Hospitalet", was there to save the penalty shot. Barcelona may have won anyway, but Valdes did manage to preserve a clean sheet - his 46th clean sheet in the Champions League. Only Edwin van der Saar has more.

His penalty save was not an isolated incident this season. While Barcelona have left a lot to be desired defensively, Valdes has ensured key results with timely goalkeeping. In the two-legged Spanish Supercup, Valdes made 7 saves against Atletico Madrid. His best intervention was a critical parry from a close-range Arda Turan bullet:

Barcelona only scored one goal, but that's all they needed to take home the trophy. David Villa, who now plays for Atletico but spent a few years in Barcelona, said Valdes was the player of the match. "He made the difference," Villa said.

Against Malaga in La Liga, Valdes made 11 saves as Barcelona won 1-0. He was man of the match according to our poll. And even though Barcelona conceded two against Valencia, Valdes - who made eight saves - was not the primary reason.

In the last league round so far, Valdes had perhaps his worst outing so far. Sevilla scored two goals from two shots on goal, which does not read well. However, both times Valdes was left completely exposed and it would have been a real miracle to have prevented both.

He bounced back against Ajax, where he held the Dutch team at bay with seven saves, including the penalty stop.

Valdes has been left in dangerous situations by a team adjusting to new coach Gerardo Martino's ideas, and perhaps still short on manpower, especially with Carles Puyol injured. But he's responded with great performances.

You could spend many paragraphs talking about Valdes's accomplishments, statistics, and trophies. He has started and won three Champions League finals. He's won the Ricardo Zamora trophy for best La Liga goalkeeper a record five times.

And yet, some may still remember him from a few choice errors over the span of his 11-year career at Barcelona. The most memorable incidents were both against Real Madrid. Both times, he made a mistake while in possession. Both times, it led to conceding a goal. Both times, Barcelona won the match anyway.

That a goalkeeper who makes more passes than basically any other goalkeeper is remembered for a few mistakes, glaring as they are, seems unfair. His legacy at Barcelona is one that is not truly recognized by some.

At the end of the season, he has openly stated he will leave. In the form he is now in, Barca fans would rather him stay for a long time.

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