Marc-André ter Stegen 21 Goalkeeper Borussia Mönchengladbach Germany
2013 has been…
Having been at Borussia Mönchengladbach since he was just four, Marc-Andre ter Stegen knows the club inside out. There is no finer place for the young goalkeeper to have been blooded in the top flight of German football or been allowed to come to terms with the fact that he is one of the best young goalkeepers in world football right now.
At only 21, ter Stegen is already closing in on a century of Bundesliga appearances. Should he continue to feature regularly for Gladbach this season, avoiding injury and/or a drop in form, he’ll pass that landmark comfortably before the season draws to an end and he books himself a place in Germany’s World Cup squad.
Marc-Andre has been the Mönchengladbach number one goalkeeper since April 2011. New boss (at the time) Lucien Favre threw the 19 year-old into the side as Gladbach sought to complete one of the most miraculous escapes from relegation you are ever likely to see. Ter Stegen played six games and conceded just three goals as Gladbach won four and lost just one of their final few games. They eventually dragged themselves into 16th in the Bundesliga and safety via a two-legged play-off against Bochum.
He has been ever present in the league for Gladbach ever since, playing 87 times as well as a host of European and domestic cup matches for his hometown club. His mature, capable performances for Die Fohlen have caused many former German goalkeepers to suggest he will one day be seen as the number one for the national team.
For now, he has to live with being tagged the eventual successor to 27 year-old Manuel Neuer while keeping Bernd Leno, Rene Adler, Ron-Robert Zieler, Roman Weidenfeller and Tim Wiese all away from his spot as the German number two. We’ve probably forgotten a couple of names in that list as well.
In 2011/12, ter Stegen played an important role as Gladbach surpassed many expectations with a top four finish in the Bundesliga. Lucien Favre and his squad were lavishly praised for following a season spent in a dogged relegation battle with one at the other end of the table. Marc-Andre and his defence conceded just 24 goals in 34 league matches and kept 15 clean sheets. Across Europe’s five major leagues, only Manuel Neuer’s Bayern Munich and Gianluigi Buffon’s Juventus produced better numbers.
As such, ter Stegen was drafted into the preliminary squad for Euro 2012 at just 20. However, he conceded five goals on his debut for the senior team against Switzerland and was left out of the 23 that competed in Poland and the Ukraine.
In truth, he’s not had the best of times for the national team; other than saving a penalty from Lionel Messi seconds after replacing red-carded Zieler in a friendly against Argentina. Ter Stegen has been beaten 12 times in just three appearances for the Nationalmannschaft and made quite an embarrassing mistake in last summer’s defeat to the USA when he let a back pass roll past him and into the goal.
Thankfully, he’s rebounded well from each of his slip-ups and learned to eradicate many of the mistakes from his game. As a young goalkeeper, ter Stegen does make errors. Refreshingly, he learns not to make the same mistake twice and is always improving his decision-making as a goalkeeper. Neuer will take some shifting if he is to play competitively for his country but there is little doubt that the young pretender has the qualities to take over.
With Neuer’s ascendancy through German football still fresh in the memory, there are many that consider Marc-Andre to be a superior goalkeeper compared to how a 22 year-old Manuel Neuer played. Both are equally excellent shot stoppers and have impressive penalty records but it is in the air and on the ground that ter Stegen excels.
Despite the miscalculation against Jurgen Klinsmann’s USA, he remains a gifted goalkeeper with the ball at his feet. He is confident in his short and medium-distance passing and can if needed; deliver the ball with surprising accuracy into the opposition half to set attacks in motion. Ter Stegen is also much more comfortable under the ball than Neuer was at his age. Marc-Andre is commanding under a high cross and judges the flight and pace of the ball exceptionally well.
Neuer is only five years his senior and remains in pole position to establish a long legacy as Germany’s number one. His main contender may just need to be playing at a club on the same level as Bayern Munich to force his way in.
Can he play for Barcelona? Absolutely. If he had to, he could probably do a job for them this weekend. That’s assumes they really needed him at short notice and were somehow allowed to circumvent FIFA’s transfers rules to sign him. Ter Stegen has everything that Barcelona should probably be looking for in a replacement for Victor Valdes.
He’s young, strong, confident and has so far shown he’s able to retain his concentration in the biggest of games. In the last two and a half years, ter Stegen is the only goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet against Bayern Munich’s terrifying attack on more than one occasion in the Bundesliga.
Will he play for Barcelona? That’s for the money men to figure out and Marc-Andre to ultimately decide upon. Since his debut, it’s been clear that Marc-Andre is headed for the biggest clubs in the world. It could simply come down to whether or not at 22 years of age when the season ends, he wants to put himself into the cauldron of pressure and scrutiny that goes with being Barcelona’s goalkeeper; especially when living abroad for the first time.
With his contract up in 2015, Borussia Mönchengladbach have got their hands full this summer as teams will see it as their last chance to force a fee for the young goalkeeper. They’ll either need to tie him down to a final contract or do their best for a big money deal. One thing is for sure; he’ll have plenty of options.
"The German press has been flooded with reports of his move to Barcelona and when you watch how comfortable he is on the ball, what a great presence he has in the box and how mature he is for his age it's easy to understand why. A natural successor to the Kahn and Neuer national team lineage." - Cristian Nyari, Bundesligafanatic.com
"Despite a pretty awful turn for the national team in the Summer, ter Stegan remains one of the Bundesliga's most reliable and sought after goalkeepers. Rumours linking him with Barcelona do not go away although another season at Borussia Mönchengladbach may be wiser, especially if they qualify for the Champions League." - Terry Duffelen, Talking Fussball Extra
"Marc Andre ter-Stegen is one of only three Bundesliga 'keepers to keep clean sheets against both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in the last three seasons." - Opta
C+ He’s got enough to oust Neuer at the very top. Just needs to see out these last few months