David De Gea vs Victor Valdes: Statistics show Valdes is more than adequate replacement at Manchester United

Manchester United look set to lose the current No 1

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David De Gea looks increasingly likely to leave Manchester United this summer with both his manager and team-mates speaking openly about the possibility.

The Spain international has just a year to run on his existing contract, putting him in an incredibly strong position as he determines his future. That's coupled with serious interest from Real Madrid, a club that offer a route to return to his home city. Plus the 24-year-old's girlfriend is Spanish and is understood to be keen on a return to her home country.

With De Gea on the verge, attention is turning to who will replace him at Old Trafford. Petr Cech is among the leading candidates but former Manchester United goalkeeper Raimond van der Gouw reckons the next No 1 is already a Manchester United player - Victor Valdes.

"With what he knows about football and the way he is playing, he is perfect for United," the former United stopper told BBC Sport.

"He can play for another three or four years in a top team."

So is Van der Gouw right - is Valdes the ideal replacement?

AGE

In comparison to De Gea's 24-years, Valdes looks old at 33. But for the position of goalkeeper, it could be argued he's just reaching his peak. When Edwin van der Sar moved to Old Trafford from Fulham he was 34-years-old, yet would go on to become one of Manchester United's best ever goalkeepers in the six years he was there. Recent examples of keepers playing on into their later years include Tim Howard at Everton (36) and Brad Friedel at Tottenham (44). Age should be of no concern.

Victor-Valdes.jpg
Victor Valdes

 

ABILITY/PEDIGREE

Louis van Gaal has appeared reluctant to play Valdes since signing him as a free agent in January, but the fact the Spanish keeper didn't make his debut until the 1-1 draw Arsenal owes more to not wanting to unsettle the in form De Gea. It must be remembered that this was an ever-present goalkeeper during the most successful spell in Barcelona's history. After coming through the ranks at the Nou Camp, Valdes played for the Catalan club for 12 years up until 2014 before choosing to leave by his own accord. During that time he made over 535 appearances and lifted 21 trophies - among them three Champions League titles, two Fifa Club World Cups and six league titles.

 

VALDES vs DE GEA

Analysis of Valdes' final season for Barcelona against De Gea's current campaign for Manchester United makes promising reading if Valdes does replace the current Old Trafford No 1.

Whilst injury curtailed Valdes' final campaign at the Nou Camp, he still played 26 league games. Across those matches, Valdes was better in nearly every department compared to De Gea, despite general agreement that this has been De Gea's best ever season.

Valdes kept more clean sheets per game - 0.5 to 0.3. Valdes conceded less goals per game - 0.81 to 0.97. Valdes made more saves per game - 2.31 to 2.11. Valdes also made more saves per goal - 3 to 2.17.

When it comes to distribution, the pair are nearly neck-and-neck; Valdes had an accuracy of 68 per cent to 69 per cent for De Gea.

One area that might be slight concern for United is Valdes' preference for punching over catching in comparison to De Gea. The older of the two would punch 0.42 times per game, whilst De Gea does so 0.19 per game. That statistic is backed up by De Gea catching the ball more often than Valdes per game - 2.19 to 1.88.

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