Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta has suggested that Victor Valdes is determined to leave the club and a replacement will be signed this summer.
Blaugrana president Sandro Rosell claimed after Sunday's 2-1 win at Atletico Madrid that he was hoping to sit down with Valdes, Zubizarreta and coach Tito Vilanova to persuade the long-serving 'keeper to stay at the newly-crowned La Liga champions.
However, Zubizarreta told Catalan radio station RAC1 on Monday that he thought Valdes had already made up his mind to leave, and Barca had not picked up the signals early enough.
“When we made the new contract offer they told us they did not want to renew, because of a desire to want to compete, to want to leave, to want to try another type of football,” he said.
"This [Barcelona’s] is a goalkeeping position which takes a lot out of you. I believe this is a ‘life’ decision, not a professional one. Valdes is a great goalkeeper, a priceless player. If Valdes wants to leave, we will sit down with him and look for the best option. I thought the contract extension was going well, and I must offer a ‘mea culpa’.”
Barca have been linked with a number of different shot-stoppers since the news broke in January that Valdes had decided not to extend his current deal, which ends in June 2014.
Liverpool’s Pepe Reina, Borussia Moenchengladbach’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Valencia’s Vicente Guaita have all featuring heavily in speculation in Spain and the UK.
The former ‘Dream Team’ goalkeeper said the club would be looking for someone with similar characteristics to their current No. 1, who has helped Barca win three Champions League trophies and six La Liga titles since establishing himself as first choice in 2003.
"I have the exact profile for next year,” Zubizarreta said. “The style, the idea, the options we have. Exactly the same as him [Valdes] no?”