The term ‘safe hands’ is often coined for goalkeepers, but rarely has it been so justified than in Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s case.
The German, who firmly established himself as Barcelona’s No.1 after seeing off competition from Claudio Bravo, has proved to be one of the Catalans most astute signings of the last few seasons.
That’s because there isn’t a week that goes by without the custodian playing the fullest part in Barcelona’s victories.Perhaps that says more about their defence than it should, but no matter. A back four can always feel more at ease with a stopper behind them who is an expert in their field.
Showing he can produce at the highest level on a regular basis, it’s a big surprise that Joachim Low continues to pick Manuel Neuer ahead of him for the German national team.
It used to be said that it was because Neuer was better with his feet than ter Stegen, but that theory has been more than disproved over the last couple of seasons.
As Barcelona head into the second leg of their Champions League semi-final with Liverpool, ter Stegen’s team-mates know that they have him to thank, again, for keeping their three-goal advantage.
He’ll rarely get the column inches for his performances, but his value to the team is hugely appreciated by his colleagues and coaching staff.
The unfortunate by-product of his excellence between the posts is that Jasper Cillessen is known to want to leave Barcelona this summer.
A fine goalkeeper in his own right, the Dutchman has had enough of just playing in the Copa Del Rey matches, and sitting on the bench for league and Champions League encounters, hoping for an injury that never comes.
Already with one Champions League under his belt, ter Stegen is hopeful of adding another to his collection, to sit with the multiple other winners medals he’s already accrued with Barcelona.
To think that Alisson Becker cost Liverpool €72.5m and, should David De Gea leave Manchester United, prospective purchasers can expect to part with €80m+, ter Stegen’s €12m fee from Borussia Monchengladbach has to be seen as one of the bargain buys of this century.
It wasn’t that long ago that Barcelona’s hard-to-please fan-base were making noises suggesting that their club had got it wrong again in the transfer market.
Suffice to say that they’d never consider swapping him for either of the aforementioned custodians now, nor any other come to that matter.