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The 31-year-old was applauded by the Camp Nou crowd on Sunday, and the Argentine says his team-mate deserves the affection of the club's fans, despite his contract situation

Lionel Messi has claimed Victor Valdes is the best goalkeeper to have ever worn the Barcelona jersey.

The 31-year-old was warmly greeted by the Camp Nou crowd, despite refusing the club's offer of a new contract, and the Argentine believes his team-mate deserves the praise he receives.

"He deserves all the applause and more. For me he’s the best keeper in the history of this club," the Argentina international was quoted as saying on the club's official website.

Valdes made his official first team debut for the Catalans in 2002-03, and has since developed into an undisputed first team member at Barca, and has made 20 appearances so far this season.

Despite his agent's public declaration that he did not want to extend his stay at the club, director Andoni Zubizarreta claimed they woud respect his decision.

Pepe Reina, Thibaut Courtois and Marc-Andre ter Stegen have all been mooted as potential replacements for the Spain international.

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