Spain keeper Valdes to leave Barcelona in 2014
BARCELONA - Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes has rejected the chance to renew his contract with the club and will leave at the end of his current deal in 2014, sports director Andoni Zubizarreta said on Friday.
Spain's number two behind Iker Casillas has just turned 31, and has played with Barca since joining their academy in 1995.
"We let them know our interest in renewing his contract because he is a keeper of the highest level," Zubizarreta told Barca TV, after the first meeting between the club and his representatives to discuss his future.
"Before we could put forward any proposals or speak about anything, his representative told us that the decision had been considered and taken, that he would not continue after June 30, 2014. It's an irrevocable decision."
Valdes made his first-team debut in the 2002-03 season and has worn the number one jersey since the 2003-04 campaign, helping them to win three Champions League titles and five La Liga crowns since then.
He hinted at a news conference earlier this month that he would like to experience "other cultures, other leagues and other countries".
Zubizarreta asked fans to "respect the professional decision of a player who has spent 12 years here. We are asking you to continue supporting him and to encourage him as much as you have done throughout his career.
"He is committed to this jersey until June 30, 2014 and will defend the goal with everything he has.
"Meanwhile, we shall work together to see what the next steps should be, along with him and his agent, to work together to deal with this situation that arose yesterday."
Reserve keeper Jose Manuel Pinto is 37-years-old, so Barca have a big job on their hands to find a long-term replacement for the brilliant shot stopper and talented ball player, who is often the starting point for much of the side's patient possession football.
Valdes has won Spain's Zamora award for the fewest goals conceded in La Liga for the past four seasons in a row.
He is one of only two men to have it won five times along with his predecessor at Barca Antoni Ramallets, who played in the 1950s and early 1960s.