Victor Valdes says that his decision not to sign a new deal at Barcelona is “irrevocable”, but he intends to see out the final 12 months of his contract.
Valdes, 31, had been quiet since January, when his decision not to renew was made public. He has since been heavily linked with a move to big spending Ligue 1 side Monaco, while speculation about possible replacements included Borussia Monchengladbach keeper Marc Andre Ter-Stegen and Liverpool’s Pepe Reina.
The goalkeeper told a press conference at the Camp Nou on Friday morning that he felt he “owed it to the club” to see out his current deal and planned to play abroad in the future, but did not expect Saturday’s La Liga game against Malaga to be his last for the club.
“We have a year to work out between me and the club the best solution for both parties,” Valdes said. “I have a year left and I owe that to the club. My idea is to see that out. Everyone - the club and I - need to find the best solution. I see myself playing in other leagues, and looking for other challenges. [But] I do not feel that tomorrow could be my last game for Barca.”
The call was made due to the accumulated pressure that had built up over his 11 seasons as first-choice goalkeeper at the Camp Nou, Valdes said.
“The goalkeeping jersey at this club weighs a lot. There is a lot of responsibility. This is a decision I have made over the seasons, psychologically, bit by bit - it adds up. I made up my mind to tell the club of my decision [not to renew] when they offered me a new deal in January. Nobody should speculate that this decision was made for financial reasons or question my commitment to this club. [But] it has been made and is irrevocable.”
The Spain international apologised to any fans who might have been upset at the speculation that filled the void left by his silence since January, but said he felt his relationship with everyone at the club was still good.
“My relationship with everyone, directors included, has always been strong,” he said. “I am not involved in the conversations with the club. My agent [Gines Carvajal] is in the meetings, not me.”
The Hospitalet de Llobregat-born goalkeeper came through Barca’s La Masia academy and made his debut in September 2002. He has since won three Champions Leagues, six La Liga titles, two Copas del Rey and the ‘Zamora’ trophy for La Liga’s best keeper on five separate occasions.
He said that the most important ability for his replacement would be dealing with one-on-ones with opposing attackers.
“Everyone talks about ‘keepers who need to play with their feet,” Valdes said. “I always say that the Barca ‘keeper needs to be the best in the world in one-on-ones. Each season they face 20 or more of these situations, which decide games. Playing with your feet is something you can improve on, but for me the one-on-one is the most important characteristic a Barca ‘keeper must have.”
Valdes said Liverpool's Pepe Reina - another La Masia graduate, and someone who has regularly fed speculation he might return to the Camp Nou - was a viable option as Barca's next ‘keeper.
“Pepe is an international ‘keeper who has shown his quality,” he said. “He knows the club. We were here together in the past - he is a good friend of mine. He is a very valid ‘keeper to play at any club in the world, including Barcelona.”
In February, current Barca reserve goalkeeper Jose Pinto, 37, extended his contract and tied himself to the club until June 2014.