KARANKA HOPEFUL WITH VALDES

Victor Valdes has enjoyed a decent run this campaign at Middlesbrough, but Aitor Karanka says the former Barcelona first choice shot stopper can’t be compared to the player he once was in Spain.

However, Karanka says he will remain hopeful.

Three-time UEFA Champions League winner and six-time La Liga champions agreed to a deal to join Middlesbrough this summer, becoming the club’s most decorated player ever. Valdes agreed to a two-year deal. So far, he has made three Premier League games so far. The Spaniard missed two matches due to a minor hamstring injury, but is set to appear in goal when Boro play Tottenham Hotspurs this weekend.

When asked about Valdes’ performance, Karanka said the goalkeeper is nowhere near his former level. “He’s done well. 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.”

Karanka said he brought the former Camp Nou regular to Boro because of his character and experience. “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.

Karanka added that he hopes the club can help Valdes to his best. For the past two and half years, Valdes has not been playing. Karanka added that there were a lot of people trusting him at the club. Karanka said he liked Valdes’ character in the squad – especially his winning mentality.