Valdes showing Barca what they will miss

MADRID. 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.

MADRID. 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.

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 fifth title in six 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.

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