For the last two seasons, Claudio Bravo has been Barcelona’s first choice goalkeeper in La Liga.
Brilliant Bravo bids farewell
During that time the 33-year-old helped Blaugrana achieve great success, whilst at the end of Barca’s 2014-2015 campaign, in addition to receiving the Ricardo Zamora Trophy for being the best goalkeeper in La Liga, he was also named in the division’s team of the season.
As such Bravo has played an extremely important role for Luis Enrqiue’s side over recent times, but will no longer do so, after being sold to Manchester City for €18m.
ter Stegen and Cillessen chief candidates to succeed Bravo
The departure of the Chilean internationalist centurion, who has made 106 appearances for La Roja, from Camp Nou, leaves Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Jasper Cillessen competing to become Bravo’s successor as Barcelona’s first choice goalkeeper.
Whilst ter Stegen is now beginning his third season with the reigning La Liga champions, they have just signed Cillessen from Ajax for €14.9m in order to compensate for the sale of Bravo to Manchester City.
ter Stegen – Barca’s cup competition specialist
Since joining Barcelona from Borussia Monchengladbach for €12m in May 2014, despite Enrique preferring to field Bravo ahead of him in La Liga, ter Stegen has played all of the club’s Champions League and Copa Del Rey games. Whilst instrumental in Barcelona’s 2014-2015 Champions League success, ter Stegen has also been vital for the Catalan giants as they have won successive Copa Del Rey titles.
As such the 24-year-old 6-times capped German internationalist has proven himself as being capable of handling the considerable pressures associated with playing for Barcelona, whilst his Dutch counterpart Cillessen is still to learn of those.
Cillessen shines for club and country
After signing for Ajax in August 2011 from NEC Nijmegen for a fee in the region of 3m euros, Cillessen displaced Kenneth Vermeer as de Godenzonen’s first choice goalkeeper at the start of the 2013-2014 season, when he helped the club win the last of their 33 Eredivisie titles.
In doing so Cillessen performed brilliantly, with that being acknowledged by Holland’s then international manager Louis Van Gaal, who made the 27-year-old his first choice goalkeeper for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Subsequently Cillessen played each of his country’s games at the tournament, as they finished in third place, although he was infamously substituted for Tim Krul at the end of extra time in Holland’s quarter final against Costa Rica.
With that game entering it’s 121st minute and the score line locked at 0-0, Van Gaal made the decision to introduce Krul for the impending penalty shoot – out, which turned out to be an inspired choice since the 28-year old saved two Costa Rican spot kicks as Holland won 4-3. Ironically following Cillessen’s move to Barcelona, in order to replace him, Ajax manager Peter Bosz has signed Krul on a season long loan from Newcastle United.
Ultimately Krul faces an extremely difficult challenge to emulate his predecessor’s superb performance levels for Ajax, which were recognised as Cillessen was named as the club’s player of the year for both 2015 and 2016.
Dutch – German rivalry set to evolve for no.1 spot at Barca
By taking into consideration Cillessen’s past achievements for both club and country, it is rational to surmise that Barcelona have undoubtedly acquired a top class goalkeeper, whilst they have one such other player in the guise of Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Therefore during the upcoming season, ter Stegen and Cillessen are set to compete keenly to become Barcelona’s first choice goalkeeper, although the German is potentially the favourite to occupy the role, given his prior experience of playing for the club. Nevertheless Cillessen also represents an excellent goalkeeping option to Enrique.