When Diego Alves shouted out in pain after kicking out the ball in the last game of the season, one had the feeling this was all but good. I have to admit I did not think it would be as bad as it turned out though. The diagnosis turned out to be a knee injury meaning at least 6 of the next months will be spent outside the football field. It seems unjust, because Alves was in the form of his life. Much Like our neighbor Villarreal’s Sergio Asenjo.
Immediately after the seriousness of the injury was known, names of goalkeepers started floating around. The main dilemma though seems to be whether the club should go for a talented young keeper, or if they should go for someone more experienced. One thing is for sure though; The one that arrives must be a sizable upgrade from the two goalkeepers already in Valencia’s squad.
In the first category we find 1992 model Gerónimo Rulli who has had a remarkable season on loan at Real Sociedad. According to “the internet”, he is 80% owned by an investment fund, while the remaining 20% are owned by his Argentinean club Estudiantes. Rulli was expected to continue for Txuri-Urdin but things seem to hve gone silent after the player announced there would be “news from my agent next week”, more than two weeks ago. The same agent yesterday confirmed Valencia interest in his player, however not revealing any leads as to where his client would end up.
The “experienced” category can be divided in two main parts. One set of linked goalkeepers are direct replacements for Diego Alves. In this category we find Andres Fernández, a former Osasuna shot-stopper who has spent the season on loan at Porto. After a strong season at Osasuna despite their relegation, he has only managed 4 games at the Portuguese number 2.
Roberto Jiménez is another Spanish goalkeeper, famously handled by Jorge Mendes. His transfer from Benfica to Zaragoza raised eyebrows as the club was on the brink of financial collapse and still paid 8,6 million for a goalkeeper all other than famed for his skills. It turned out to be a third party ownership deal. Spent the last two season at Olympiakos, intiially on loan from another Mendes club, Atletico.
Sergio Romero, the Argentine world cup goal keeper despite being second choice at Monaco, will leave his current club Sampdoria on a free transfer this summer. Spent the season on the bench at Sampdoria despite having limited competition from Emiliano Viviano.
Guillermo Ochoa, the lively Mexican goalkeeper who had a great season at Ajaccio, followed by strong performances at the World Cup, has played second fiddle to notoriously unstable Carlos Kameni at Malaga. Ochoa played only 6 Copa del Rey matches for his team this season and has lost his position for Mexico.
Neto, the 25 year old Brazilian who has spent some seasons at Fiorentina recently replaced Alves in Brazil’s Copa America squad and is available on a free after telling Fiorentina he would be off already last year. Interest has been claimed from clubs such as Inter, Liverpool and Juventus although no move has materialized yet. Although he has consistently been picked for Viola, the opposition has been questionable with Rumanian Taturasanu as the toughest challenger. And in my eyes, he is not much of a challenge. Neto is also famed for his high profile blunders happening repeatedly.
Kiko Casilla, Espanyols strong man with gloves has earned praise from most experts for his play this season. After the game versus Atlético, Simeone pointed at the Catalan as the reason his boys couldn’t snatch a win. He has been monitored by clubs such as Liverpool and Real Madrid and has been offered to Valencia. He did however recently sign a new contract with a buyout clause of 20 million euros, way out of reach for Valencia.
Antonio Adán who was a long time shadow of Iker Casillas and other goalkeepers at Real Madrid, took center stage when Mourinho put the latter on the bench. Adán very much became the scape goat of the fans. After Joining Real Betis he has however done quite well and played himself into shortlists of teams both in La Liga and Premier League.
The second part of the “experienced” category are typically a second choice at big clubs and most likely to join on loan for a season, potentially with a buyout clause. Cech, José Manuel Reina, Victor Valdés, Willy Caballero, Artur and Keylor Navas are all clear and unhappy second choices at their current clubs and could potentially be available for loan.
So what should Valencia look for? Well, Amadeo Salvo already stated that Diego Alves will be Valencia’s goalkeeper the next 4 years, showing needed confidence in the Brazilian awaiting his operation this Friday. The club already have two mid-level goalkeepers, Jaume and Yoël who are both decent but lack experience at a big club and in big competitions. It would be difficult for Valencia to justify bringing in a goalkeeper within the same segment and also without experience.
It would also be difficult, Salvo’s comment taken into consideration, to sell a transfer to the club to Gerónimo Rulli. If it is a given Alves will be first choice when he is back – why go for such a talented young goalkeeper who needs games to improve further? And should Valencia take on loan a player to drive his development for someone else? Does he have the experience?
No, my choice would be a loan of one of the established number 2s. Someone who could go straight into the team, spread confidence and keep the defense together. That also means that this goalkeeper should be an “hispanohablante”, as Spanish talker. I think the two words “Timo Hildebrand” should justify that. We need experience in a young squad. It would also be a huge benefit that this goalkeeper has been involved in Champions League or other big European and international competitions.
Finally it should be a goalkeeper who is relatively complete and who has played a fair amount of matches under his belt the last season (let’s say at least 10). For me, that leaves this list of potentials: Keylor Navas, Petr Cech (who actually does speak Spanish among 6 other languages). Any of the two would fulfill all criteria above and have no issue fitting into the team. If I had to choose for 1 year, I would have gone with the Czech, Cech, just because I also think he would relish a new challenge and bring a heap of other experience from Chelsea.
What are your thoughts on who Valencia should sign (if anyone) to replace Alves? Is there anyone that should have been on the list?