A born leader who once scored a free kick - Claudio Bravo a smart signing for Barcelona

PROFILE: The Chile goalkeeper completed his transfer to Barcelona on Wednesday. With one new shot-stopper already signed, what will the 31-year-old bring to the Spanish giants?
The departure of Victor Valdes this summer after over a decade’s fine service at Camp Nou opened up a gaping hole between the posts at Barcelona. Marc-Andre Ter Stegen has already arrived from Borussia Monchengladbach, but at the age of just 22, Barcelona were keen to ease the pressure on the promising young German by adding an older, wiser head to their ranks.

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Claudio Bravo, at the age of 31, represents an experienced goalkeeping option for Luis Enrique next season - one the new Barcelona coach himself specifically requested.

Born in Buin, the Chile international moved to Spain in 2006 – joining Real Sociedad from Colo Colo after winning the Chilean Apertura that year.

Since his arrival in Europe, Bravo has developed into one of La Liga’s premier goalkeepers. In 2010-11 he was considered by many as the best shot-stopper of the season in Spain, with AS naming him as the goalkeeping revelation of the year.

He also played a key role in the Basque outfit qualifying for the Champions League when they finished fourth in 2012-13.

An idol in San Sebastian, Bravo’s best attributes include his leadership qualities – something he recognises himself.

“I am a natural leader in Chile and also here in Spain. It comes naturally to me,” Bravo said last year.

Bravo has lightning-fast reflexes and is a calming influence in the penalty area. He is very skilled at playing with his feet – a virtue that has often been very important for goalkeepers at Barcelona, particularly during Pep Guardiola’s reign.

He has a great personality – even once scoring a goal for Real Sociedad in 2010 from a direct free kick against Gimnastic - but can occasionally be guilty of overconfidence. This led to Gareth Bale embarrassing the goalkeeper for Real Madrid in La Liga last season and also David Villa punishing the shot-stopper at the 2010 World Cup when Spain defeated Chile.

For his national side, though, Bravo is regarded as one of the country’s most cherished players. Captain since the retirement of Marcelo Salas, Bravo has accumulated 82 caps having made his debut way back in 2004.

He could break Leonel Sanchez’s appearance record of 84 games during the ongoing World Cup in Brazil – a tournament Bravo has impressed in as Chile eliminated holders Spain to book their place in the last 16.

The decision to sign Bravo should prove to be a wise one for Barcelona. The Blaugrana have been burned before with young (German) goalkeepers – particularly the late Robert Enke – and Bravo provides both safety and leadership to a squad that has lost a number of stalwarts this summer.