Diego Alves glad he stayed at Valencia despite Barcelona links

Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves says he is glad he did not leave for another club this summer after cementing his first-team place at the Mestalla stadium.

Barcelona were reportedly keen to acquire the 31-year-old in the summer as a replacement for Claudio Bravo but eventually signed Jasper Cillessen from Ajax.

Alves was not in the starting XI for Valencia's opening two league games under former coach Pako Ayestaran but has started every match that has followed, and has been a bright spot for a club that has had a difficult time this season.

He told AS: "I'm happy here. There is always talk and movement in the summer. I've been here six years now. To remain at Valencia was my aim. I didn't see myself out of this club.

"At 31, I feel that I have a lot of experience. I'm calm and I try to improve every day. What matters is what I do on the pitch."

Alves made his 17th La Liga penalty save to break the record set by Andoni Zubizarreta when he denied Leganes player Alexander Szymanowski last month.

The Brazilian then kept out two more in Sunday's 2-0 home defeat to Atletico Madrid and has now saved 19 of 41 attempts. Of those attempts, 20 were goals, one was off target and the other hit the crossbar.

Alves, who joined Valencia in 2011 after four seasons at Almeria, said: "There are no secrets. Each player has strengths and I'm good at saving penalties. The goal is very big and the one who takes the penalty has many options. But since I was young, I've been lucky in this facet. It comes natural. But I've never gone in search of a record, it's just happened."

Alves says he did not despair when Australia international Mathew Ryan started in goal in Valencia's opening two league games.

"I've always trained well," he said. "In the opening two league games, the coach had his options and chose someone else. You accept it. Now I'm playing and I'm happy.

"I've never had an argument regarding being a starter or not. Just like in any other position on the pitch, there is competition in goal. Perhaps because we have three goalkeepers there is more of a debate but it's normal."

Competition is high with Ryan and Jaume Domenech, who started in 17 league games for Valencia last season, eager to re-establish themselves as the No. 1 choice for new coach Cesare Prandelli.

Prandelli was the full-time replacement for Ayestaran, who was dismissed last month after Valencia lost their opening four league games.

Valencia are second-bottom in the standings with six points from their opening seven games, but Alves said: "Prandelli is very eager and he is a coach with many years of experience in football.

"We will try to adapt to what he wants quickly. We have to work and improve not just on the physical aspect but also on the tactical one. That is what the coach is working on."