Barcelona fans will have awoken to the news this morning that goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen injured his back in a training session on Monday afternoon. He will now train alone for the next few days while the extent of the damage is analysed.
The young German shot-stopper, along with Chilean custodian Claudio Bravo, are new signings at Camp Nou this season as the club aims to replace the seemingly irreplaceable and influential Víctor Valdés who decided to take up the option of departing the club on a free transfer to stimulate himself with new challenges having amassed an amazing 21 major trophies during his time with the club.
FC Barcelona released a statement late on Monday evening confirming the injury to ter Stegen –
“New first team goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen suffered a blow to his spine during the second of Monday’s two training sessions,” “Tests early on Tuesday confirmed the injury of the German goalkeeper who will work on his own for the next training sessions.”
With less than two weeks remaining until the beginning of the new LIGA BBVA campaign, it would appear that Claudio Bravo is now in pole position to begin the season between the sticks under the guidance of new manager Luis Enrique, as he attempts to turn around the fortunes of the Blaugrana following the late disappointment of last season – ending the season without a trophy.
However, the news of the former Borussia Mönchengladbach man’s injury may not be the worst news for the team. Claudio Bravo is no stranger to top-flight Spanish football, having spent 8 years at Basque club Real Sociedad, appearing 237 times.
The Chile captain, unlike his German counterpart is fluid in the native language as well as being well versed in their playing style, having been deployed as an auxiliary sweeper-keeper for his national team for a number of years under the cavalier tactics of Marcelo Bielsa and now under Jorge Sampaoli.
FC Barcelona is a club built on principle and tradition and particularly over the past few decades they have believed in the art of possession football and ‘playing out from the back’.
There are few better ball-playing goalkeepers than Claudio Bravo and his approach to the game will no doubt see him fit seamlessly into the defence. He possesses an above average pass success rate for goalkeepers at 53.4% and amassed an average rating of 7.4 across his 4 World Cup games. – Figures provided by whoscored.com
Young ter Stegen has long been hailed as one of Europe’s hottest prospects and will almost certainly go on to achieve great things at Barça, however a season on the sidelines may not be the worst treatment for him. He is arriving from a league built on a lot of pace and power in the Bundesliga, in vast contrast to the more technical and patient stock playing style of the LIGA BBVA.
He must also become competent in playing the ball out with his feet to fit into the Barcelona ethics as well as fitting into a massively different culture and learning a different language. It may be wise to rotate him into the line-up in cup competitions to gradually build up his understanding with the rest of the team.
Home-grown Barcelona product Jordi Masip will act as the third-choice goalkeeper this coming season, however at the age of 25 is unlikely to ever make it as a top level goalkeeper. He has never appeared competitively for Barcelona and has instead featured regularly for Barcelona ‘B’ over the past few seasons. Standing at 5ft 11” he also doesn’t possess a domineering presence which is often a hallmark of a really world class goalkeeper
The battle for the goalkeeper position at FC Barcelona promises to be an interesting one this season as they have never had such selection dilemmas in the past with Víctor Valdés always acting as the undisputed number one.
Leave your comments below and let us know who you think will start the season in goal and why.