United insist Valdes deal will not lead to De Gea exit from Old Trafford
Manchester United are determined to hold on to goalkeeper David de Gea, despite agreeing an 18-month contract with the former Barcelona No 1 Victor Valdes last night.
United are set to announce that the 32-year-old has signed on at Old Trafford as understudy to De Gea, having been convinced that Valdes - who has not played since sustaining a serious knee injury nine months ago - is not a long-term medical risk.
But though the decision to sign him until 2017 will create doubts about De Gea, who has only 18 months left on his contract, the prospect of Real Madrid bringing the 24-year-old back to Spain this summer is not thought to be substantial.
Valdes is considered to have the stature to provide the kind of genuine competition for De Gea which current deputy Anders Lindegaard is not offering.
United manager Louis van Gaal does not consider Lindegaard to be good enough and United have anticipated since the autumn that the Dane would leave Old Trafford this month.
They also seem ready to let third-choice keeper Ben Amos leave. Amos was criticised by Van Gaal for letting in Miralem Pjanic's 60-yard lob against Roma in a pre-season friendly.
The only other goalkeeping option is 21-year-old Sam Johnstone, who is on loan at Doncaster Rovers.
United are relaxed about De Gea's future after a first half to the season in which he has established himself as the top keeper in the Premier League and have been more focused on offloading surplus squad members in the past month.
Anderson is another player United are anxious to get off the payroll, while winger Adnan Januzaj may leave on loan to Paris Saint-Germain.
The decision to register Valdes and take him on to the books comes after a two-month analysis of his fitness by United.
Their conviction that he does have a future with them will compound the frustration of Liverpool, who must now rue their indecision over him.
It is thought the Anfield club wanted to take Valdes on trial. Their indifference is believed to have contributed to an uncertainty on his part about heading for Merseyside.
Though De Gea might be seen as a long-term goalkeeping option at the Bernabeu, the incumbent Iker Casillas has shown no desire to leave, despite having had to share a first-team place in the past few years.
Casillas was demoted to the bench behind Diego Lopez in La Liga in 2013 but returned to favour with the latter’s departure to Milan in August.
The Costa Rican Keylor Navas, who was signed last summer, is now competing with Casillas for a starting place and he played against Atletico Madrid last night, though there is no sense that signing Spain’s new No.1 keeper from Old Trafford is Real’s priority.
Valdes, who suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage in his knee during a La Liga match for Barcelona against Celta Vigo last March, is living at the five-star Lowry Hotel in Manchester city centre, but is thought to be looking for a property in the area.(©Independent News Service)