Buying a goalkeeper for the future isn’t the same as for a different position, especially when it comes to the age of a prospect. Tim Krul is 24, but the Newcastle United keeper has drawn the attention of Barcelona scouts, looking to bring in a new backup for Victor Valdes and maybe someone who can replace him in a number of years.

The reason for the new search for keepers on Barca’s side isn’t Valdes growing older or suddenly falling out of favor with head coach Tito Vilanova. Barcelona’s backup keeper, Jose Manuel Pinto, 36, will be leaving the club once his contract runs out at the end of this season. Vilanova has asked for a young, talented keeper to fill in Pinto’s shoes and maybe someday come in for Valdes.

After all, Barcelona’s number one keeper for the past nine seasons is nearly 31, which isn’t old in goalkeeper time, but it’s never wrong or too soon planning for the future. Valdes, who has been at the club since the age of 13, is a five time Zamora trophy winner (he lowest “goals-to-games” ratio each season in Spain) and holds the club records as goalkeeper with most appearances in the league and in official competition. His contract runs through the 2013-2014 season.

So who is on the shortlist? At the moment, only one name – 24 year old Tim Krul, who is into his third season as the starter at Newcastle, a club he’s been with since 2005, when he was signed from ADO in the Netherlands as a 16 year old kid, still playing in the youth team.

Krul broke into the lineup in late 2010, taking over for Steve Harper between the posts. Alan Pardew was so impressed he gave the young Dutchman the reigns of the important job, and Krul played in all 38 matches in the Premier League last season, acknowledged as one of the best keepers in the Premier League after a fantastic season.

He is currently injured (elbow), and was already linked during the summer to another transfer destination, as Spurs were looking to sign a keeper, eventually opting for Hugo Lloris, apparently a substitute at the moment for Brad Friedel. The question regarding Krul isn’t whether Newcastle will be willing to let go of him, because price is always something that can be negotiated; it’s whether Krul would like to leave for a bigger club, knowing it probably means sitting on the bench for a few seasons.

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