Valdes to hand Van Gaal keeper selection puzzle

Ross McLean
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Valdes won six La Liga titles with Barcelona
MANCHESTER UNITED were last night set to sign former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes after offering the Spaniard an 18-month contract at Old Trafford.

The 32-year-old has been training with the 20-time English champions since October in a bid to overcome the anterior cruciate ligament injury he suffered in March.

Valdes, who has won six La Liga and three Champions League titles, departed Camp Nou at the end of last season after his contract expired and will now provide competition for United’s first-choice stopper and compatriot David de Gea.

De Gea has been an ever-present for Louis van Gaal’s side this term, conceding just seven goals in his last 13 matches following an inauspicious start to the campaign as United shipped a combined nine goals during defeats to Leicester and MK Dons.

The move is likely to raise question marks over the future of current reserve keeper Anders Lindegaard, who has made just 19 top-flight appearances since arriving at Old Trafford from Norwegian outfit Aalesund in a £3.5m deal in January 2011.

Van Gaal’s other goalkeeping options are Ben Amos, who was criticised by the Dutch tactician for conceding a long-range lob from Roma’s Miralem Pjanic’s in pre-season, and 21-year-old Sam Johnstone, who is on loan at Doncaster.

United’s FA Cup fourth-round clash at League Two outfit Cambridge United, the lowest ranked side left in the competition, will be played on Friday 23 January, with a 7.55pm kick off.

Stoke City, meanwhile, have signed Germany centre-half Philipp Wollscheid on loan from Bayer Leverkusen for the remainder of the season, with a view to making the deal permanent in the summer.

The 25-year-old ex-Nuremberg defender has been capped twice at international level and has made 50 Bundesliga appearances for Leverkusen, but spent the first half of the campaign on loan at Mainz.

“Philipp is a player we’ve been tracking for some time,” said Stoke boss Mark Hughes.“He’s got presence, technically he is good, he has played at a high level and he has gone for big money in the past. To get a German international at a relatively young age is a good deal for the club.”