By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Exciting news for Flamengo’s legion of fans as Spain’s Valencia CF (Football Club) announced on Sunday, July 16th, that it has come to terms with Flamengo for the transfer of goalkeeper Diego Alves to the Rubro-Negra for a reported €300,000 (approximately R$1.1 million).
With the deal, Flamengo adds one of the world’s best penalty saving goalkeepers to an already packed roster that includes stalwarts Paolo Guerrero and Diego, and recent signings Éverton Ribeiro and Rhodolfo.
At the time of writing, Flamengo had yet to announce the transfer. But, Valencia released a brief statement on Sunday saying, “Valencia CF (Football Club) has concluded an agreement with CR Flamengo on Sunday for the final transfer of the rights of goalkeeper Diego Alves to the Brazilian club.”
The move signals a return to his home country for the 32-year-old Alves after a decade long spell in Europe. Alves had played for Botafogo and Atletico Mineiro before leaving for Spanish club Almeria in 2007.
At Almeira, Alves demonstrated a knack for shutting down penalty kicks keeping out 12 of 18 penalties before joining Valencia in 2011. Facing his first penalty kick with Valencia, Alves rose to the occasion and denied Argentine superstar Lionel Messi, cementing Alves’ reputation as a penalty saving specialist.
Last September, Alves entered the record books making a record-breaking seventeenth penalty save in Spain’s top flight. Then, just this past April, he broke another record when he saved Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty for a total of six penalties saved in a season, conceding only three penalties over the course of the campaign.
In total, in the 2016-2017 season, Alves kept six clean sheets in 33 league starts for Valencia and holds a La Liga record of 24 penalty saves.
Alves joins a Flamengo club that is fighting to stay in the G-4 (top four) of the Campeonato Brasileiro (Brasileirão) Série A standings.
Last night, the Rubro-Negra drew 1-1 with Cruzeiro in Round Fourteen of the Brasileirão, and with 24 points is currently in fourth place.