Victor Valdes starts season in impressive form, leaving Barcelona perplexed over decision to quit

The goalkeeper will move on at the end of the current campaign

Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes has hit some of the best form of his career in the opening weeks of the season, making it all the more perplexing for the club's fans that he appears determined to stand by his decision to leave.

The 31-year-old, a product of the club's youth academy who made his first-team debut in the 2002-03 campaign, announced last term he was quitting because the pressure of being Barca's first choice keeper for a decade had taken its toll.

He refused the offer of a contract extension beyond June 2014 and said he wanted to experience different cultures and different languages, prompting speculation he could accept a lucrative offer from big-spending Ligue 1 side Monaco.

Barca have made a solid start to the La Liga season under new coach Gerardo Martino and will be chasing a fifth win in five matches at Rayo Vallecano on Saturday (1800 GMT).

However, three of their four league wins have been by a single goal and Valdes has made a host of vital interventions that have helped avert an early setback to the club's bid for a sixth title in five years.

He was also decisive in Wednesday's Champions League Group H opener at home to Ajax Amsterdam, including stopping Kolbeinn Sigthorsson's 77th-minute penalty with a typically athletic dive.

Valdes has been praised by coach Gerardo Martino and team mates for his professionalism and his form has prompted calls for Spain coach Vicente del Bosque to give him the keepers' spot ahead of captain Iker Casillas.

"I would be very excited to win this Champions League and I want to win it in whatever manner possible," Valdes, who won the competition with Barca in 2006, 2009 and 2011, told reporters after the 4-0 success against the Dutch champions.

"I know that it will be the last one I compete in with Barca," he added.

"I am very grateful for the people's support. That gives me even more confidence."

Barca are the only team along with Atletico Madrid with a perfect 12 points from their four La Liga games.

Atletico, who started their Champions League campaign with a 3-1 win at home to Zenit St Petersburg, play at Real Valladolid on Saturday (2000) and will have combative forward Diego Costa back after he was suspended for the Zenit match.

Real Madrid host city rivals Getafe on Sunday (1700) fresh from knocking six goals past Galatasaray midweek and record signing Gareth Bale could make his second start after coming on as a second-half substitute in Istanbul.

The Wales winger, who became the world's most expensive player when Real bought him from Tottenham Hotspur for 100 million euros ($133.5 million) in the close season, scored on debut at Villarreal in last weekend's 2-2 draw.

Real coach Carlo Ancelotti was buoyed by the news on Wednesday that central defender Raphael Varane and fullback Fabio Coentrao trained with their team mates for the first time since being sidelined by injuries.

Getafe came from a goal down to stun Real 2-1 at their Coliseum stadium in the Madrid suburbs last season and midfielder Diego Castro said anything was possible at the Bernabeu on Sunday.

"You cannot fear anyone in football," Castro told a news conference on Wednesday. "Strange things often happen."

Real Sociedad need to pick themselves up for Saturday's match at home to Malaga (1400) after they fell 2-0 at home to Shakhtar Donetsk in their Champions League opener on Tuesday.

Reuters

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore