Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has tipped teammate Marc-Andre ter Stegen to become the world’s best goalkeeper within the next few years.
The Argentina international admits Ter Stegen, who has only been used in the Champions League this season, has surprised him since his summer move from Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Messi was speaking ahead of Barcelona’s Champions League semi-final first leg against Bayern Munich on Wednesday night - a match which will present Ter Stegen with another opportunity to showcase his credentials.
"Ter Stegen surprised me a lot from the first day," Messi told reporters on Tuesday morning, according to Sport.
"I didn't know him well before he signed, but he has been impressive and he could be the best in the world in a few years."
Claudio Bravo competition
Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique has opted to use Claudio Bravo, another summer signing, as his first-choice goalkeeper for La Liga matches since the start of the season.
But the Barça boss believes he currently has “the best keepers in the world” at his disposal.
Ter Stegen impressed during his three years as a professional with boyhood clubs Gladbach, before sealing a £9.7 million move to the Camp Nou last summer.
Following the departure of Victor Valdes, Ter Stegen must have presumed he’d be the first-choice goalkeeper at Barcelona, but a month later the Catalan giants announced the signing of Chile international Bravo from Real Sociedad.
Bravo and Ter Stegen have both performed well this season and, if Barcelona end up winning La Liga and the Champions League this season, Enrique’s unorthodox decision will have paid dividends.
Real Madrid did the same thing last season
Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti did the same thing last season with Diego Lopez and Iker Casillas.
Casillas only played two league matches for Los Blancos last term, but played all 13 Champions League fixtures as Real Madrid lifted the European Cup for the tenth time.
Lopez was subsequently offloaded to AC Milan last summer, paving the way for Casillas to reestablish his status as number one at the Bernabeu.
Ter Stegen needs to be playing league games
Ter Stegen will need to become Barcelona’s first-choice keeper in La Liga before people consider him as one of the world’s best.
At this moment in time there are three goalkeepers widely considered the best in the world: Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer, Manchester United’s David de Gea, and Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois.
Does Ter Stegen have the ability to surpass the aforementioned goalkeepers? Tell us by leaving a comment in the box below!