22 Goalkeeper Barcelona Germany
2014 has been...
Mere weeks after we’d filed our report on Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s 2013, he confirmed what we already knew. He wouldn’t be a signing a new contract with Borussia Mönchengladbach. With his deal supposed to expire at the end of the 2014/15 season, Marc-Andre acted as fairly as he could to his hometown club. Instead of walking away as a free agent, he tried to ensure the club recouped some remuneration for turning him into the player that had worked his way into the German national team.
The market for ter Stegen was dominated by one team. Barcelona had been long-time admirers of the young goalkeeper and they had the deal sorted out within 10 weeks of the original announcement. We’re pretty sure their very public monitoring of Marc-Andre scared off anyone else from making it a bidding war.
That transfer however, might just be where 2014 peaked for the 22 year-old.
It’s been a tough year. Ter Stegen hasn’t not done anything spectacularly wrong. There aren’t any seriously howling errors or drops in performance that we can point to as a sign that ter Stegen has had it tough; but he’s just not had “it” all year long. The fact that we could only grumble at Joachim Löw’s decision to leave him out of his squad for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil without having an actual argument to make in Marc-Andre’s favour summed up our fears.
He wasn’t one of the best three goalkeepers in Germany during the first five months of 2014 and he was rightfully left out of the squad that eventually went on to left the trophy.
It’s not all bad. He has secured a move to Spain and that’s quite a big for a player that had been at Gladbach since the age of four; and he has continued to play at the highest level. We’ve just not been blown away by Marc-Andre. The little chinks in the armour – slightly less than lightning fast reflexes and sometimes looking a little rushed in possession – haven’t been ironed out as quickly as we expected; but we are nit-picking about a very complete goalkeeper.
It’s because the 22 year-old has been so accomplished in previous years that we’re disappointed by the last 12 months.
Barcelona is a huge step up from Gladbach. Not in the quality of the opposition necessarily, there isn’t a massive jump between the biggest leagues of Europe but in the expectation around the players. Barcelona are expected to win and win well every time they take to the pitch. That’s a pressure that ter Stegen won’t truthfully know and he needs to start shouldering that as quickly as possible. Mistakes, no matter how small, aren’t allowed.
Especially with Claudio Bravo as the defacto number one so far this season, Marc-Andre has had to wait on the Champions League to begin to get his chance between the posts. Even though Marc was injured for the opening two weeks of the league season, we’re not convinced he’d have been in goal for the first league game of the season. Bravo knows the Spanish game well, is having a storming year for both club and country and then started the season (and his times with Barcelona) by keeping eight clean sheets in a row. That’s a tough act to match, no matter how good you are.
In Germany, Marc-Andre was indulged a little by his hometown club. His rise to prominence allowed him to become a big fish in a small pond, and he plateaued over his last nine months with the club. The Camp Nou is an ocean in comparison. After making the starting berth his own at the North Rhine-Westphalia club, it was never called into doubt. He wasn’t pushed by an accomplished understudy and that ultimately saw his development come to a halt. Completely understandable but massively frustrating in equal measures.
Claudio Bravo is a more rounded, superior option to ter Stegen at the moment and that’s why he has played in the league while Marc is featuring in a Champions League group that the club have navigated at a relative stroll.
The best thing for Marc-Andre in the coming months is to enjoy himself in Spain and take in as much as possible. He has the opportunity to learn the country, the culture and the language while training every day with one of the game’s most highly-rated goalkeepers.
The Catalan giants had one eye firmly focused on the long-term future of the number one jersey when they confirmed the long-awaited deal to sign ter Stegen away from his hometown club. Bravo was signed to help ter Stegen settle at the club. Everyone wants him to succeed. There won’t be too much panic around the club that he’s taking a little bit of time to settle in completely.
“Not being in the World Cup squad has put a real downer on the year; but Joachim was right to leave him at home. He’s in for a real battle to establish himself as the number one at Barcelona but he can do it and he might just take the Germany jersey while he does it.” – Ryan Keaney
"During his last two seasons with Gladbach, only Manuel Neuer (33) kept more clean sheets in the Bundesliga than Marc-Andre (18)." - OptaJoe
C- Things have been allowed to plateau in the last 12 months. As much hard work as possible is required.
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