It seems as though Barcelona are on the verge of finally capturing the replacement for current keeper Victor Valdes. The Ctalan club have given Valdes every chance to change his mind about leaving when his contract expires at the end of the season, but he has been open and honest and is set on moving on.
The Barcelona manager can pretty much do whatever he wants tonight. With Cartagena coming to the Nou Camp for the second leg of the cup clash already 4-1 behind from the first leg, Tata Martino has the luxury of resting players, but it is the players who will play that are making the news.
It seems as if club captain Carles Puyol and first choice right back Dani Alves will both make their comebacks from injury tonight. Hopefully they will both gain the match sharpness they need to be considered for the more important La Liga games to come.
It never rains but it pours they say, and it has been chucking it down at FC Barcelona recently. With the Club already having to cope without the hugely important Lionel Messi, probably for the rest of the year at least, the last thing Tata Martino needed was any more players picking up injuries during the international break.
But that is just what has happened, and it leaves the Barcelona first team looking a bit threadbare. From the main starting XI from last season, Jordi Alba and Messi are unavailable long term and have now been joined by Victor Valdes, Dani Alves, Cristian Tello, Afellay and Dos Santos.
Tata Martino must be cursing the international break this morning. Half his Barcelona team have had to undergo various long and exhausting journeys, and all for pointless friendlies. The boss already had the aserious problem of having to cope without the team talisman and goal machine Lionel Messi, and now it looks like Xavi Hernandez and Victor Valdes have picked up injuries.
The keeper is the most worrying, as Barcelona do have options in midfield. Fabregas and Iniesta can easily play for the next few games, another sign that the new manager’s insistence on regular rotation is a good idea. None of the players have been overused and so they will be fine to play all the time for a while.
There are lots of players from FC Barcelona on international duty, as usual, with the notable exception being Lionel Messi, who has been excused from the two Argentina games in order to fully recover from his niggling thigh problem. There was an injury scare yesterday when it was reported that Neymar had a problem and had to miss training for Brazil, but thankfully he is fine, and he played and scored against South Korea today.
Although the president, manager and players of FC Barcelona have tried before and vowed to keep trying, it appears that Victor Valdes will not change his mind about seeing out his current contract and leaving the Nou Camp next summer. The Spanish international stopper restated his position in an interview this week and insisted that he and his family would be in another country this time next year.
There have been quite a few critics of FC Barcelona already this season, despite the fact that the club has been forced to appoint a new manager for the third time in three seasons. Also, Tata Martino was brought in to freshen things up a bit and tweak the system to avoid the problems of the latter part of last season.
The criticism seems even harsher when you realise that a Barca victory over Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou tonight would equal the record start to La Liga of six wins in a row. History and current form point to that happening, even though Sociedad had a great season last time which got them into the Champions League.
The president of FC Barcelona, Sandro Rosell, suggested last week that he would try again to persuade the Spanish international keeper Victor Valdes to change his mind about leaving the club at the end of the season. 31-year old Valdes has so far resisted any attempts to get him to accept a new contract, although he sais he is happy to see out his current deal which expires next summer.