Valdes injury a bitter blow for Barca

The Barcelona goalkeeper long ago announced he will not be staying at the Catalan club beyond this summer and would have been looking to go out in style at the Camp Nou, having been part of one of the greatest sides club football has seen in the past decade.

One of the most decorated keepers in world football, Valdes deserved a hero’s send off. Instead his Barca career has ended in agony being stretchered off in Wednesday's home win over Celta Vigo.

The worst fears were confirmed later that evening with the injury ruling him out for six to eight months, meaning he will miss the vital run-in and the chance of being Spain's No.1 in Brazil. It's a blow for club and country and a sad farewell to a La Liga legend.

It leaves a big hole in the Barcelona back line, something they thought they would have the summer to address. Jose Pinto will be the man they call upon for now, making an already suspect backline even frailer. The 38-year-old back-up has always been employed as the Copa del Rey goalkeeper, and has rarely made La Liga appearances.

He comes in at a crucial stage and will have to get used to being first choice very quickly and build up his understanding with the back four. La Blaugrana have had defensive lapses this season and further disruption is a huge blow.

Barcelona’s goalkeeper is rarely tested and concentration is vital, something to which Pinto is not attuned. He has also, at times, been rash in his decision-making. Teams will feel far more positive attacking this Barca backline and Pinto will be thrown into a derby with Espanyol this weekend.

Valdes’ injury also opens up a spot in Spain's World Cup squad. Although many expected Iker Casillas to start despite not being a Real Madrid regular there was a slim chance Valdes could have made taken the gloves for La Roja this summer. It was certainly his best chance.

But like many positions in the Spain squad, there’s hardly a lack of strength in depth. Manchester United's David de Gea looks favourite to take Valdes’ spot although Diego Lopez's form cannot be ignored.

Pepe Reina will hope to have a look-in but Casillas will likely remain the Vicente Del Bosque’s preferred option. In that sense Valdes' injury comes as a bigger blow for club than country.

Despite Real Madrid's defeat at Sevilla, losing such a key part of the side may come back to haunt Barcelona as they approach the business end of a fascinating season. There has been talk of the end of a cycle and Los Cules have lost a member of that successful generation for good. They may also have lost any hope of overtaking Atletico Madrid.