Newcastle United have been linked with moves for both Victor Valdes and Steve Harper if they deceide to bolster their goalkeeping department in January.
Tim Krul’s shock injury, which has seen the Dutchman ruled out for the rest of the season,and Karl Darlow’s ongoing ankle problem has left the Magpies light in numbers as far as the last line of defence goes.
Newcastle only have third-choice Rob Elliot, who is out of contract in the summer, and untried 18-year-old Freddie Woodman available.
It has led to speculation that the Magpies may look to bring in a short-term option in January as cover, with Valdes and Harper both mentioned as possible signings.
We take a look at the tale of the tape between the two.
Current club: Manchester United
Former clubs: Barcelona
Honours: 6 La Liga titles; 2 Copa del Rey; 2 Supercopa de España; 3 Champions League titles; 2 UEFA Super Cups; 2 FIFA World Club Cups; 2010 World Cup; 2012 European Championships
Positives: Valdes is highly-decorated and hugely-experienced. He was part of the all-conquering Barcelona side of the last decade and also has World Cup and European Championship winners medals, despite not playing in either of the 2010 and 2012 tournaments with Spain. Valdes is available for transfer at Manchester United, having fallen out with Louis van Gaal, and would be available either on loan or for a small fee. At 33, he still potentially has some of the best years of his career as a goalkeeper ahead of him.
Negatives: Valdes has only played twice in the Premier League, having joined United after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament – the same injury as Krul – last year. He has been frozen out at Old Trafford and hasn’t played a game since May. His bust-up with Van Gaal, after it was claimed he refused to play for the reserves, comes after he also fell out with Barcelona towards the end of his contract.
Current club: None
Former clubs: Newcastle United, Hull City
Honours: Championship winner 2010
Positives: Harper is already known to the club, having spent 20 years at Newcastle. He still lives in the area, and would be happy with a short-term contract until the end of the season while Krul recovers from his injury. Harper played for Hull in the Premier League last season, keeping our clean sheets in nine games, and is immediately available.
Negatives: At 40, Harper’s best days are behind him. He hasn’t played since May either and having not been attached with a club since leaving Hull, lacks match fitness and sharpness which comes with not only playing, but also training every day at a professional club.
Verdict: Purely based on statistics, Valdes looks the better option. He’s seven years younger than Harper, is one of the most successful goalkeepers the world has seen and would provide leadership and a presence in the Newcastle changing room that they so desperately miss. However, he comes with baggage, and hasn’t yet proven he has fully recovered from his terrible knee injury. With Harper, Newcastle know exactly what they are getting. He would also provide experience and leadership, having played a key role in that department when Newcastle were relegated six years ago. If it is short-term cover that Newcastle want, Harper could be the better bet, doing a role similar to what Tommy Wright did in 1999 and Pavel Srnicek in 2006/07 when they both returned to their old club on a temporary basis.