Can Memo Ochoa become the best goalkeeper in Spain?

With the departure of stars like Victor Valdes and Thibaut Courtois, and the ups and downs Iker Casillas has had in the last few months,…
Can Memo Ochoa become the best goalkeeper in Spain?

Guillermo Ochoa #13 of Mexico looks on against Ecuador during an international friendly match on May 31, 2014 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

With the departure of stars like Victor Valdes and Thibaut Courtois, and the ups and downs Iker Casillas has had in the last few months, Malaga’s newest signing, Guillermo Ochoa, may as well have his way paved to becoming the best goalkeeper in La Liga.

The Mexican star is now officially Willy Caballero’s replacement at Malaga, after signing a four-year deal coming on a free transfer, since his contract with Ajaccio had ended in late June.

After being relegated with the French club, Ochoa is looking for bigger challenges, and Malaga may just be the perfect place to grow into European stardom.

His performances in Brazil surprised many, mostly on the 0-0 tie against the tournament hosts, and Memo now has the chance to solidify the expectations he created in a top-notch competition, which fatefully may have lost a ton of its goalkeeping power.

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Spain has always been home to some of the best goalkeepers in history. From Zamora to Zubizarreta, from Ramallets to Abelo Conejo or N’Kono, there’s a legacy of outstanding keepers in La Liga, having reached its highest splendor in the last decade.

Iker Casillas has widely been considered the best one in the business throughout his career, but since 2009, Victor Valdes has given him a great run for his money.

Then, the last two seasons, the imposing figure of Thibaut Courtois at Atletico Madrid has taken up the game by storm and at 22 years of age he’s set up to become the best ever if only he manages to maintain the wonderful progression he’s shown while in La Liga.

The other important name to have come out of the Spanish tournament in the last years has been Costa Rican Keylor Navas. The Tico international finally earned a starting spot at Levante last season after having spent the two previous years playing only in Copa del Rey matches, as Uruguay’s Gustavo Munua was the starter. But once he became the leader of the team, he grew to unimaginable levels, and he has just signed a dream-deal with Real Madrid for the next four years.

However, things have changed a lot this summer on the goalkeeping end in La Liga and that could mean that Memo Ochoa will have an easier chance at shining in Spain.

Victor Valdes decided to leave Barcelona and, although still injured, is looking for a long-term deal far from Spain. Thibaut Courtois loan at Atletico Madrid expired and Jose Mourinho required him to come back to London, where he is poised to become Chelsea’s goalkeeper for the next 15 years. Iker Casillas, with Diego Lopez’s imminent departure from Real Madrid, will most likely become the team starter once again but his shaky World Cup and Keylor Navas arrival to the club could keep both goalkeepers from reaching their highest potential –similarly to what happened last year with Iker and Diego.

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Finally, Willy Caballero, the other goalkeeper who had stolen many headlines in the last few years playing in La Liga, is actually the one whose departure has opened the door for Memo’s arrival to Malaga, so Ochoa will not face as stiff competition as there’s been in Spain in the recent past.

It’s a great time to be a professional goalkeeper right now as the World Cup as shown us that not only forwards can take the glory in soccer. Neuer, Howard, Romero or Navas are now household names after the Brazil 2014 tournament, and Memo Ochoa was lucky enough to be part of that select group of keepers who outperformed themselves during the competition.

The Mexican international is looking to take it up a notch now as he joins Malaga, and potentially becoming the best in Spain will surely be something to call out on his resume.