Crystal Palace have completed their first signing of the summer with the addition of Getafe goalkeeper Vicente Guaita. The 31-year-old was out of contract at the Madrid-based club and represents a significant upgrade on the position for The Eagles.
It had been reported earlier in the week that Italian giants Fiorentina had entered the race for Guaita, who Palace attempted to sign in January, but the South London club have now completed the deal. The Spaniard should replace Wayne Hennessey as number one goalkeeper at Palace, who have had a long-term issue with their goalkeeping department.
‘One of the best goalkeepers in La Liga’
Guaita, 31, spent seven seasons as a regular in Spain’s top flight, firstly for Valencia, for whom he made over 100 appearances, before joining Los Azulones in 2014. He kept 12 clean sheets for Getafe last season (despite being dropped for an extensive period after attempting to push through a move to Palace in the New Year).
“We are delighted to sign one of La Liga’s best goalkeepers and pleased that we beat off the competition for his signature,” Palace chairman Steve Parish told the Crystal Palace club website. “We very much look forward to Vicente joining in pre-season training and helping us push on in the Premier League.”
Guaita, who stands at six feet, three inches tall, is commonly viewed within Spain as one of the top-flights most reliable goalkeepers and, on paper, represents an excellent move for Palace.
As is the case for most top-level goalkeepers, the Valencia-native is valued primarily for his outstanding shot-stopping ability but also due to the rarity of any mistakes. His concentration and positioning are never called into question.
The main concerns surrounding his style of play centre on his distribution and ability at handling crosses into the box, which may be exposed during his time in the Premier League.
Guaita, as with most Spaniards, is comfortable playing out to his defence but beyond short-range passes, his ability to start counter-attacks is often found wanting.
Whilst not necessarily a criticism, he tends to punch the ball clear from corners and long-range shots rather than attempt to make a catch. This is a clear ‘safety first’ policy which usually works but can perhaps cause irritation.
However, excluding own goals, he conceded just 26 goals last season in La Liga. Based on Opta xG data, the average goalkeeper in Spain’s top flight would have conceded on 36 occasions, representing the third-largest differential by a La Liga goalkeeper in 2017-18. His qualities will be welcomed in South London.
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