Goalkeeping changes; Lunin in, Caro out
After much speculation over the summer, Real Valladolid announced they have secured the services of Ukrainian goalkeeper Andriy Lunin on a one-year loan deal from Real Madrid.
The 20-year-old arrives with a good reputation, having worked his way through his country’s youth ranks to senior level. His debut in a full international came in March last year against Saudi Arabia in a 1-1 draw and is considered by Ukrainian manager Andriy Shevchenko – the former Dinamo, Milan and Chelsea striker – as one of the jewels in his side’s crown. He joins winger Jorge De Frutos and defender Javi Sánchez in arriving from the capital club for this season.
He signed for los Blancos in July 2018 from Zorya Luhansk in his native country. He is very well thought of in the Madrid organisation, who have high hopes for the young stopper. Such is their enthusiasm to allow Lunin to experience first-team football he spent last season on loan at Leganés. He served primarily as back-up to first choice goalkeeper Ívan Cuellar and made five of his seven appearances in league action with the other two coming in the Copa del Rey.
The addition of Lunin signals the departure of José Antonio Caro, as he will spend the upcoming campaign on loan at Ponferradina. Caro spent last year at Albacete, having joined Real Valladolid on a free transfer from Sevilla Atlético in the summer. He had featured frequently in pre-season, standing in for Jordi Masip and dividing playing time with Samu Pérez from the Promesas side. Caro started the pre-season matches against Cardiff City, Racing Santander, Real Mallorca and Sporting Gijón.
Lunin will almost certainly begin the season as back-up to Masip, who enjoyed a stellar season between the posts for the blanquivioletas despite their low finish in the league. However, it will certainly encourage the current number one to avoid complacency with an option of Lunin’s quality waiting in the wings. Masip drew praise for some standout performances, such as denying Lionel Messi on several occasions in the away fixture at the Camp Nou. This match featured one of his three penalty saves of the year, repelling the Argentinian’s spot-kick as Barcelona struggled to break down Real Valladolid and scraped past with a 1-0 win. There were question marks over his ability to deal with high balls though and, as such, he made occasional errors and lost his place to last year’s back-up Yoel for two matches. However, Yoel was far from convincing and made a catastrophic error at Álaves which cost them an early goal. Masip soon found himself reinstated as the club’s first choice for the remainder of the season.
Alongside the battle for supremacy at right-back, this is one of the main positional competitions to watch develop as the season progresses.
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