Season in Review, Pt. 2: Most Valuable Player

I hate this part, because no matter who you pick, it’s the wrong decision. Everybody on our squad was immensely valuable in this amazing year in which we came so close to repeating the unrepeatable. Key contributions came from every part of the pitch for us, and the challenge was to find the one player who, match after match, contributed to our excellence in a way that would prove indispensable to the club and what it accomplished. It was a hell of a hard call, frankly, and maybe it’s suicidal, in that I’m so used to being called a butthead after match reviews, that I miss the feeling. 😀

At any rate, my MVP is Victor Valdes.

Now, I’m already flinching as I type this, in anticipation of the brickbats that will come hurtling my way. It will make the nattering at The Offside seem like gentle kisses by a sun-flecked breeze.

But I’m okay with that.

First, here’s why I didn’t choose Xavi. There is absolutely no doubt that our General was crucial to the success of our team. When he was in, we were a better side for it. Significantly better. His lob over the top for Messi led to the demise of the EE, and a victory in the away El Clasic is but one of the many things that argue for Xavi as MVP. Many was the match in which he had a part in every goal that we scored. Every. Last. One.

And why not Messi? Simply enough, because when Messi had matches off, bad days that we all griped about in liveblogs or comment threads, we still won. His contributions to our cause were immense. He carried our offense when two crucial cogs, Henry and Iniesta, were crocked for entirely too much of the season. Valid MVP arguments could be made for both he and Xavi, and I made them. But I kept coming back to Valdes.

This was a season that was so delicate, so precarious that one goal here or there could have turned it. Unlike last year, where gaudy scorelines were the norm except in tight matches, this season even in the league, there were intense scorelines. We usually didn’t win by blowing the other side out of the water.

Valdes just stands back there, with a ground-level seat to the best football in the world until all of a sudden it goes bad and he has to swing into action, going from 0-100 in about two seconds. And he does it. If Xavi makes a bad pass, he gets another chance, because of our possession game. If Valdes makes an error, we’re down 1-0 and the match takes on a very different complexion. Think about that reflex stop that he made on Fabiano against Sevilla. If that shot goes in, the match is dramatically different, and maybe we aren’t champions right now. Maybe. Just maybe.

Championships start with defense. In matches in which our defense was shaky, Valdes stood strong, dashing off his line to break up one-on-ones, performing the task of sweeper keeper in a way that kept us safe. Yes, he conceded goals. There were even a couple that were his fault, because of positioning or being wrong-footed. But our defense begins and ends with the keeper. If a defense has confidence in its keeper, it plays more bravely and takes the kinds of chances that defenders sometimes have to take, knowing that the keeper is going to bail them out. Our defense plays more bravely, more crazily, than any defense in the world. At times, every defender is pushed up the pitch, leaving our gates wide open.

Except for Valdes.

There were also matches in which we scored, and the other team had opportunities to score. And whether from an absurd reflex save or reading a play right, Valdes has spent the season being not only excellent, but indispensable to our club. Xavi wasn’t in for some matches, and the machine rolled on. It stuttered a bit, and threw a cylinder at times, but on it went. Luckily, we never saw the effects of what might have happened had Valdes not been in the side. His season was so exemplary that he not only won Zamora for the stingiest keeper in the Liga, but went from not being anywhere near the World Cup radar, to going to South Africa with La Furia Roja.

The candyass thing to do would have been to have joint MVPs, or even tri-MVPs. But I’m just not going to wuss out like that. Sorry. And I know that it’s easy to take keepers for granted, because they don’t do anything, until they have to do something. They’re like field goal kickers in American football. It’s a guy who sits on the sidelines the whole game, then with a second left, the coach beckons to him and says “Go win the game for us.” Then he either does, or doesn’t.

Over at EE, even in light of their second-place finish in the Liga, if there is any justice their keeper will be MVP, as well. Higuain and Thong Boy banged in the goals, but Casillas kept them in match after match after match. As Valdes did with us. He isn’t glamorous, has kind of a dorky haircut and wears his shorts too high on his waist.

But he’s so beautiful when he springs into action, and love it or hate it, he’s my MVP.

By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. Good arguement. I think you brought a light into seeing how an MVP should be chosen, last season Valdez was awful, just awful. THIS season he stepped up, I was shocked at his improvement, so if anything to me he was most improved.
    I still would’ve liked Xavi was MVP simply because he was the motor of the team, Barça does not move the same way without him in, his non-existent penalty won us a game this season, his passing was magnificent. So he didnt complete some passes, he completed the NEEDED passes. He does under the radar A LOT, but we couldnt have done it without him, Im sure of this.
    Victor is good though 🙂

    1. Last season he was awful? A couple bad mistakes against Espanyol and Lyon, but what about his key stops against Drogba (twice) and Drenthe in the first Classico? He was world class last season and without him I don’t think we win the treble.

    2. Not debatable at all imo.

      Last season too Valdes was a rock at the back. A rock that didn’t hesitate to spring from its line to break wave after wave of attacks.

      I used to hate on him too some years back, when honestly, he was terrible. But the massive change in his form is such a pleasant surprise.

      VV FTW!

    3. Not debatable.

      Valdes was arguably the only reason we wont the Champions League. His stops against Chelsea surely saved us, and do you remember both El Clasicos!?!

      He was a monster in front of goal when we needed it the most. Saying he was awful is uneducated and unfair for our keeper.

  2. Alot of people didnt think he should be on Spains WC radar and hes off to SA. Good for him.

  3. Yes! Valdes is my MVP as well, so I have to say good call! Countless times VV saved our bacon. I am so glad he is our keeper and he renewed before this season. There is not another keeper I’d rather have at Barca.

  4. Ugh. I didn’t want an MVP (-insert childish foot stomp here-). Man, Kxevin, you are just a glutton for punishment aren’t you? 😀

    Messi’s my MVP because, well, he’s awesome. Been awesome, became awesome-er, did more awesome things and…yeah. That’s it.

    Hey! I didn’t hear anyone here say that there had to be an logical explanation, I just like Messi, he’s my favourite player (see Kxevin, I’m showing you the pettiness of the MVP 😀 ).

    And Messi is just my Forward MVP. My midfield MVP is Xavi, my defensive MVP is Pique, my non-outfield player MVP is Valdes (you could argue Pep, but…meh.)… 🙂

    Alright, I think I’ve proved my point.

    @ Stephen. Think about it this way, if we didn’t have Valdes, we’d lose every match 6-5 because the opposition would score with every chance they had.

    Valdes was absolutely ridiculous (as in amazing) last season and he’s carried that form into this season. It just shows more this season because our team play and offense haven’t been as flashy/spectacular and so you notice the defense more.

    1. I didnt say he was terrible, I just think that he wasnt the most valuable player. Last season, even in this blog people wanted him off the squad, and he did have terrible games as well as good ones. Was he that player we couldn’t perform without? Not really. He did great, theres no question, but not Mvp.

  5. Couldn’t agree more. How many times were we griping about how badly we were playing until Valdes would make an amazing save and would yell at everyone to wake the hell up – and they would. Then the domination would commence. Like the GI Joe movie sound bite, when all else failed, Valdes didn’t. Love it.

  6. Remember the Valencia game we failed to scored in? Valdez saved our bacon big time, I guess he saved us aswell when Valencia came to the Camp nou where we struggled at 0-0 by half-time.

    ALso the first classico, the magnificant saves he made to dismiss Cristiano and co. and we went on to win both classicos.

    there are countless games where he performed so well, but the way he shows up in those decisive games is what makes him so valuable.

  7. Immature post of the day:

    Who else wished the second guy fell over?


    1. Brandao is a class act. He should be in the Brazilian starting lineup!!!

  8. kevin likes defenders, he tilts in their direction. he gives defenders higher ratings on average (look at the KRS from last season, which I did before it was called the KRS). he picks VV as the MVP two times running.

    being a fan of the most attacking side on earth, it is his way of finding balance. word.

    1. Nothing wrong with that. I’m of the opinion that no matter how hard anyone tries it is impossible to be completely free of “bias” (which is rather subjective experiencing of the world). Kxevin does a great job of it though, and this whole discussion is way too philosophical for the time.

    2. we had the best defense in La Liga last season by a considerable distance. it would therefore make sense that defenders would be rated, on average, higher than others.

  9. In the “bad news for Kari” file, apparently Silva will be announced after Mourinho is announced next week.

    In the “no pervs to Barca” file, reports are that Ribery has signed an extension with Bayern.

    The silly season continueth apace, with The Yaya going to Chelsea or Citeh, depending upon what rag you believe. This, despite the very clear words of Txiki that we would love for him to be a part of our plans next season, as long as he understands that being part of a squad such as ours means that you won’t play all the time. It’s up to, and run by the coach.

    So we will see. If he goes to Citeh, he isn’t winning any silver. Not hardly. Not with Tevez and Adebayor as the strike force. If he goes to Chelsea, he might win some silver, though with their aging squad I just don’t see them having much success in Europe.

    I admit that it’s kind of unfathomable to me how anyone could want to leave our club right now, when it is poised to, should all go as expected, do great things.

    Oh, and I wouldn’t be expecting any Fabregas news any time soon. As I noted, it’s personal now, which makes business impossible. We are, again if you believe reports, going to offer around 35m plus a list of players to be included as makeweights on Monday. Arsenal is expected to laugh in our faces, stamp their feet and say their player isn’t for sale, but if you want him, we’ll take 80m.

    Fabregas is in a very difficult place. No matter what he has said privately, if he really wants to come (and I hope that he doesn’t, frankly), he will go public and say “I want out, and trust in the folks who have treated me so well to make it happen.” But if he does that and the deal doesn’t go through, he’s screwed 43 ways from Sunday.

    I also think the Xavi quote about Fabregas was stupid:

    “It is criminal for a player of Cesc’s quality not to be winning the biggest prizes in football. He really has no choice but to leave. He is making the right decision and I hope the Arsenal fans wish him well.”

    Also, Luke is working up a Top 10 Moments of the Season piece, that promises to be a delight. And boy, does Isaiah have some goodness planned. Between us and the silly season, we’ll take you right up to the World Cup, and right on through it.

    1. Why would Yaya go to Chels or City. City = no cl. Chels = Essien/Kalou? and both clubs already have ACN players.

    2. if, a big if, pep still wants cesc, then we should offer arsenal, marquez, hleb, chiggy and henrique in exchange for cesc. they are at least worht 35mill.
      xavi is one of the people that doesn’t handle the “mic time” very well imo.

    3. apparently Silva will be announced after Mourinho is…

      APPARENTLY Silva will be announced after Mourinho is …

      “Apparently” huh? I’ve live with the doubt there is on that statement (however little and petty it is.)

      I won’t believe it until pictures of his—you know the rest. If he does sign for them, I’ll come to hate him like everyone else on that team (or at least dislike). In fact, I’ll just get it out right now.



      I just go cry in a corner now.

  10. Kxevin, no prob with vv as mvp. Reember guys how most of us were cursing Valdes for demanding a pay of Casilla’s level? most underrated gk probably.

  11. …..

    did you just compare goalkeepers to field goal kickers? No, you didn’t. Please tell me you didn’t. Take it back! lol ;=

    Anyway it is a nice choice, Valdes. I do sympathize with him getting the vote, I really do. He had an awesome season and I feel he has been steadily improving for a lot of years now.

    For me the choice of MVP is really easy. It goes to the best player of our team. Especially when he scored 47(!) goals this season. Ya’ll wanna debate it, that’s cool, but yeah, Messi all the way.

    1. Hey, Adam Vinatieri won 3 Super Bowls depending on how you look at kickers. Also, he kicked 20 game-winning field goals with less than 1 minute remaining. Just sayin…Go VV!

  12. Well, it is hard to argue with your choice given that he won Zamora for second year in a row. He came up big in the clasico games and provided stability and some nice saves. We lost only one game this year and that says a lot about his play this year.

    am glad there are no Arsenal fans on this thread…

  13. ¨am glad there are no Arsenal fans on this thread…¨


    Let’s see what happens…



      BOO! HISS!

  14. Great to see all this support for VV, he’s done so well for us especially this and last season.


    I would have to say Xavi. If we didn’t have the best passer/playmaker/creative genius in our midfield, our forwards – no matter who they were or how magnificent they were, wouldn’t have scored all of those goals.

    Can we have a MVT (Most Valuable Team)?


    Loved this season, lets bring it again next season.



    Right Gooners?

  15. Great Call Kxevin.

    In this matter I am a convert. I have always believed that barca deserved a better keeper than Valdes and even remember having long arguments on the Offside with you and Isaiah over this abt 3 yrs ago.

    But last couple of yrs has seriously changed my opinion on this.

  16. overall MVP of the season: Raúl Gonzalez Blanco 😀

    I’ m truly relieved… I thought ibra was gonna be man of the season 😉

    great call on valdes too, I don’t have much memory but for what I can recall this is the first season without ANY already classical fuck-up of his. infalible!

  17. btw… with all this seluk declarations what.the.xxxx. is going on with toure I don’t understand, no busi vs yaya debate OR ANYTHING but just WHY???!!! WHY???!!!

    from now on I won’t say “I’m going to the bathroon to take a sh*t” I’ll say “I’m gonna get rid for two or three seluks”

  18. @Kxevin: Are u from Austria or what? At least in “The offside”-link your comments are marked with the flag of my country lol. Just curious.

  19. New kit pictures on the official site.


    Not sure that I’m crazy about the red shorts, but the home shirt looks alright.

    1. Thanks for the link. The keeper shirt I like. The home kit is alright, although it is a little too similar to three years ago. I’m going to have nightmares of Scholes scoring against us all of next season and of Ronaldinho riding the bench with Deco.

      And the away kit… I don’t know. I like how it says “we are the best team in the world so we don’t care what we look like. You can make fun of our puke green shirts all you want; we are going to kick your butt.” As far as a fashion choice, I think it’s hideous. But I think it works, but only because we are Barca. I don’t plan on running out and buying one immediately.

  20. LOL @ the new kits. I don’t know what to say really cause they almost always look hideous on the 1st look. I suppose I’ll grow on it. The away kit is interesting …

    But this season’s (09-10) home kits were how they’re supposed to be. Thin blue and red stripes.

    1. Agreed this seasons was top notch. Personally I think we went wayward post 05/06 cl winners kit. Really like the 04/05 and earlier ones ,so hard to get now. Found the away 1996/1997 jersey a couple of weeks ago kappa and orange!!!! Would like an away kit resembling valencias black/ orange ensemble

  21. *

    What is Txiki saying?

  22. So only 25-30 thousand people came to see Villa being presented at the Camp Nou today? Haaaw, I thought there would be more. There were 75’000 people for Ibrahimovich after all.

    1. link:


    2. Love the video, Villa’s just looking at Joan, like wth are you saying about me? lol

  23. Xavi needs to shut his midget mouth.

    If my memory serves me correctly, Xavi was about Fabregas’ age when Barca went from 1999 to 2005 without winning much but apparently Fabregas should leave at the same age because he isn’t winning stuff.

    Imagine when Figo left you guys for Madrid (when you were rubbish and they weren’t) if Raul had come out saying Figo should sign for us because Barca are rubbish blah blah…you’d be angry!!

    It’s embarrassing that a “football” club would encourage it’s players to do this crap. I have no doubt tomorrow it’ll be Pique saying stuff and then someone else thenext day.

    I and many other people once had a great deal of respect for Barcelona (with the whole sponsorship and style of play) but in the last few months, with the crying about Cesc diving – when it was clearly a foul-, to the busquets ACTUAL dive against Inter then the sprinkler crap and now the complete lack of respect shown to Arsenal FC by your board, players and fans… it’s all gone and as much as I despise Rmadrid for spending £300m (although it turns out the mighty Barcelona have managed to spend their way into £400m debt {managed to do that quietly didn’t you}) or whatever it was I hope they win the league next season and for the foreseeable future.

    You know what your players and Board members do is embarrassing and wouldn’t like it if other clubs did it to you, you’re the worst kind of entity, you’re a BULLY.

    1. “midget mouth” LOL! That’s gold, man. That ‘midget’ is who’s keeping your beloved captain on the bench for the national team.

      Anyway, I do agree that what Xavi said was unnecessary, but then, he’s speaking as a guy who really wants to play with Fabregas.

      As for the rest of your rant, I’m sorry you feel that way, Dan. Enjoy your club and have a nice life.

    2. My goodness, where do you guys come up with these stupid things? So now you are saying that Arsenal is a rubbish club being bullied by a couple of quotes that more than anything are complements to Cesc.

      Most of this stuff was created by the stupid Media, … but you know, given the intelligence exhibited by many of your club fan , it is a complete waste of time to discuss anything with you.

  24. @Eklavya. Yeah, I’m surprised as well, though I think Ibra had so many people come because at that time, many Cules were nervous because EE had made so many big signings.

    I really don’t like how Villa is sorta of being pushed to the side because of this Fabre—- business.

    It’s David Villa, men! DAVID Freakin’ VILLA! This is sooo huge and the press is jsut like, “We’ve got Villa? Sweet. Now, on to Fabre—.” Sucks.

    Also it’s confirmed: “David Villa 7” is going to be on his jersey.

    1. I tried my own version, but looks like the real thing is better, after all 😀

  25. In the link I posted a few comments ago they are showing the Camp Nou which has more than 30 thousand at the moment … or at least it looks like that … weird.

  26. i blame it on pep for the low turn out :p
    he shouldve done it on a saturday! definitely packed stadium!
    but if i was in barcelona, i would definitely take a leave no matter what!!!
    on the jersey, my god!! who in the world designs our jerseys? i wish i could do the designs..
    i guess barca found out that 07 jersey was probably one of the nicest ever, so they went back to that theme. but the yellow round neck is so hideous!

  27. New mojo, kids, because we never sleep! Nevah! Plus we have to start a new thread, now that the first bit of vitriol has entered the room. 😀

  28. I just want to say a big thank you to the BFB team, I don’t post here much (or at all) but I read as often as I can and supporting Barca as great as it has been these past few years is only enhanced with Isaiah’s superbly insightful and informational previews, Kxevin’s Reviews always brilliantly analytical and yet always with great emotion whether it be elation, anger or calm and superb tactical comments from the team and so many regulars in the comments.

    Thanks for a great season. Visca Barca.

    (And SoMa I really like your writing as well)

  29. laporta said in villa’s oresentation that the new jerseys are 100% made of recycled material “8 plastic bottles” is what he said to be exact

  30. 1.xavi
    2. Messi

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