Boro chief wants patience for star man
[.[views].], BY ClubCall
Aitor Karanka claims Victor Valdes is not the same keeper he was at Barcelona but hopes he can get back to his best at Middlesbrough.
The Boro chief pulled a transfer coup off in the summer transfer window when he snapped up the 34-year-old former Spain international on a Bosman free transfer after he was left without a team following a fruitless short-lived stint at Manchester United and on loan at Belgian side Standard Liege.
Valdes, who has won three Champions League medals and six Spanish La Liga titles during his career, signed a two-year deal at the Riverside Stadium and has started three of the Boro's five Premier League matches to date.
He started Boro's 1-1 draw against Stoke on the opening day before being ruled out with a hamstring strain, returning for the successive defeats against Crystal Palace and Everton, shipping five goals in the process.
Karanka has responded to early question marks about Valdes' form and is backing him to return to his best, while also admitting he will never be the same standard he was at the Camp Nou.
Karanka, who feels Valdes' presence off the field will be just as important on Teesside this season, said in the Gazette: "He's an experienced player, but the main thing that everyone has to understand is that it's not Victor Valdes at Barcelona.
"If he was at that level, then he wouldn't be here. He would be at a top team in the world - not just in England.
"So for that reason, I didn’t bring him in just because he was an amazing goalkeeper at Barcelona.
"I brought him in because he’s a strong character, he’s an experienced head in the dressing room and he’s going to help us a lot.
"Even when he was injured, he was helping us - especially the younger, inexperienced players."
He added: "He's not been playing for the last two-and-a-half years, but he has everything here to recover his confidence.
"He’s a winner and he doesn’t like to lose, not even in a game of five-a-side. So he’s the type of character I want in the squad."