Victor Valdes faces six weeks on the sidelines with a calf injury, meaning Barcelona look set to field veteran goalkeeper Jose Pinto for the rest of 2013.
Valdes suffered the unfortunate injury while making a routine clearance during Spain’s 1-0 friendly defeat in South Africa on Tuesday, in an incident which became controversial when La Roja replaced him with Pepe Reina despite having previously made all six allowed substitutions.
The keeper underwent tests on his return to Catalonia on Wednesday morning, and a club statement confirmed that the injury was serious enough to likely keep him out until January at the earliest.
“According to the club’s medical services, tests carried out this Wednesday confirmed that Victor Valdes has a ruptured tendon in the calf of his right leg,” the statement said. “His time out will be approximately six weeks. The Barca keeper, who replaced [Iker] Casillas at half-time in the game, had to leave the pitch in the 80th minute due to this injury. Reina replaced him.”
Barca coach Gerardo Martino now looks set to turn to reserve Pinto, 38, who has regularly played Copa del Rey games during his six seasons at the Camp Nou, but has made just 24 Primera Division or Champions League appearances during that time.
The club predicted that Pinto would keep goal for eight games -- which include tricky looking Primera Division games at Athletic Bilbao and Getafe, a clash with in-form Villarreal at the Camp Nou, and Champions League games away to Ajax and at home to Celtic.
Valdes, 31, is out of contract next summer, and has repeatedly stated his plans to look for a fresh challenge elsewhere, with Monaco, Manchester City and Arsenal among the clubs reportedly interested.
The injury came with the La Masia graduate in perhaps the best form of his career, having conceded just 11 goals in 19 club games this season, even as his defence has at times struggled amid the tactical changes introduced by new coach Martino.