It was the 26th of March, and the year was 2014. Victor Valdes was having a campaign like never before. While every one agreed that he was one of the best sweeper keepers in the world, he was often criticised for making mistakes that normally weren't expected of Barçelona's goalkeeper; not this time. He was dominating his box like a man reborn, making diving saves with the tips of his gloves, of shots that were sure to find the net. His stock sky-rocketed, and he was the hottest goalkeeper in La Liga. Having already announced his planned departure, at the end of the season, the fans had a new sense of appreciation for the man who bled Blaugrana.
José Pinto was scheduled to play against Celta Vigo on the night, but Tata Martino decided to start Victor instead. Playing as the captain, Victor was having an incredible game, like he had been having all season. As Celta Vigo took a freekick from just outside the box, Victor did well, to leapfrog and get his hands to the ball, that was right on target. To the horror of every Culé, Victor Valdes took a step forward, and went to the ground, clutching his knee, and asking for help. As his replacement Pinto took his jacket off to get into gear, the goalkeeping situation at Barça looked to be in shambles, for the rest of the season.
As the universe would have it, Barça had their first trophy-less season in a long time, finishing second in the league, on the final matchday. Victor Valdes chose not to renew, and decided to try his luck as a free agent, once the season ended. José Pinto decided to hang up his gloves and call it a day. Oier, who was third choice, decided to leave the club for greener pastures. Moving into the new season, Barcelona were looking at an empty goalpost, with all three goalkeeping spots up for grabs.
Thankfully, the backroom staff was in full gear to deal with the upcoming transfer ban, and Andoni Zubizarreta was using all his expertise to bring the best U21 sweeper keeper to Barça. Before the end of the 2013/14 season, everyone was already aware that Marc-André ter Stegen was packing his bags, to fly to Catalonia. The atmosphere was positive following the arrival of Sociedad's goalkeeper Caludio Bravo, who was expected to play the role of second choice. Jordi Masip was promoted to the first team to play the role of a third choice goalkeeper.
A twist of fate, however, led to MAtS injuring himself in preseason training, which meant that Claudio Bravo was going to start the season, as first choice. A few games into the season, and nobody wanted Bravo to play second fiddle to the returning MAtS; he kept pulling miracles out of the bag, maintaining a ridculous clean sheet record, and conceding the least goals in the first half of the season. His meteoric rise, meant that MAtS was relegated to cup duties, and playing second choice. Barcelona would go on to win the treble, with both goalkeepers performing exceptionally well, in their respective competitions.
Another season has gone by, and once more, the claim for the number 1 spot is wide open, with both men making a strong case for themselves to start. No matter what decision the staff makes, the one thing that the Blaugrana can be sure of, is that the Barça goal, is in safe hands. From the days of having Pinto as back-up, to watching one of the best goalkeepers in the world, waiting to make his mark at the Camp Nou, the journey has been surreal.
I couldn't ask for more as a fan.