Football

Marc-Andre ter Stegen still well short of Manuel Neuer

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Anyone who has the guts to publicly say that their main aim in life is to replace Manuel Neuer as Germany’s number one goalkeeper must either have an ego the size of Mars or enough patience to watch paint dry on walls.

Perhaps it is best not to say this to new Barcelona, and current third choice Germany keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who has admitted to being serious about challenging the ever present Neuer to become the freshly crowned World Champion's shot-stopper.

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However, what is interesting to point out is that the highly rated 22-year-old said this just days before he had put pen to paper to sign a five year deal at the Catalan giants.

Perhaps you could argue that ter Stegen had the status and ammunition to say this during May as he helped guide former club, and his love-affair, Borussia Mönchengladbach to finish sixth in the Bundesliga table, but not so much now.

Comical errors

Although he is known for making comical mistakes with his own goal against the United States whilst playing for Germany in a friendly during the summer of 2013, one of the most popular videos on YouTube there is a valid reason why he merited a move to a big club.

Although ter Stegen was often overlooked when it came to the Bundesliga and the German national team with Neuer and Roman Weidenfeller keeping him in their giant shadows before he moved to sunny Spain, it can be argued that he had the hardest development out of the three.

When he became the first choice keeper for the Foals following the departure of Belgian international Logan Bailly to Swiss side, Neuchatel Xamax at just the tender age of 19, he quickly had to acclimatise to the demands of playing regular Bundesliga football.

Adaption

However, he was quickly able to deal with an avalanche of pressure to quickly home his skills in becoming a confident, athletic and a seriously gifted shot-stopper after being involved in several high-scoring fixtures over the past three seasons.

With the departure of Marco Reus to league rivals Borussia Dortmund, ter Stegen quickly became a cult figure at Mönchengladbach, as he was heralded as the clubs best player having not even reached 25.

Perhaps this alongside four caps for the senior Germany team alongside strong interest from none other than Barcelona set his ego to overdrive with the 22-year-old desperate to move to the Spanish giants having not even finished his development as an up and coming great.

After spending 18 years at the Foals and after a tearful farewell, ter Stegen signed a five year deal with Barcelona, for a fee believed to be in the region of £12 million.

So far the 22-year-old is yet to make a league appearance for Barcelona, but he has been given the freedom and trust of starting in goal for the Blaugrana in their last two Champions League fixtures, with the latest coming in the club’s 3-2 defeat away to Paris Saint Germain on Tuesday.

Falling short

Here in itself lies the problem, in that ter Stegen despite looking every part a promising goalkeeper, just is not at the required level or ability to be playing Champions League football.

Indeed, you could argue that the Mönchengladbach born goalkeeper was at fault for the three goals that PSG managed to score against an out of sorts Barcelona team, an experience which has left the youngster at the forefront of both a media and national team inquest.

The worrying situation for ter Stegen is that despite Barcelona spending £12 million to bring the youngster to Spain, it is evident to suggest that the 22-year-old is more of a long-term plan, with shoddy performances doing nothing for his development.

The reality of the matter is that new Barcelona manager Luis Enrique will have no doubts of starting Claudio Bravo instead of the Mönchengladbach youngster until the 22-year-old demonstrates that he can cope with the pressure of playing for arguably one of the biggest clubs in the world.

Fourth choice?

With Joachim Löw having already picked Hannover’s, Ron-Robert Zieler as his third choice goalkeeper for Germany’s upcoming European qualifiers against Poland and the Republic of Ireland at the start of October it already seems that ter Stegen has failed to impress during his start at Barca.

If the blonde haired youngster is serious about becoming Germany’s first-choice keeper at the disadvantage of Neuer, ter Stegen will have to prove that Barcelona have bought him for a profound reason, rather as a nifty squad-filler.

Although the 22-year-old has every chance of challenging Neuer for the Germany goalkeeper’s gloves, with Weidenfeller reaching his autumnal years, he will have to become not only a regulkar for Barcelona but indeed a professional of the highest calibre.

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Topics:
Barcelona
Bayern Munich
La Liga
Germany Football
Bundesliga
Football
Manuel Neuer

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