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The debut installment of a new column about everything related to the two elite Madrid sides and FC Barcelona titled, “The Madrid-Barca Axis”, by O-Posts veteran and La Liga expert Andy Hunter.
Whilst the English press clamour over Joe Hart’s future at Manchester City, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen’s has finally been resolved at Barcelona.
Following a season of only representing the club in the Champions League, whilst Claudio Bravo (now at Manchester City) kept in La Liga, he is now the undisputed number one.
The role of the goalkeeper is one very much under the spotlight at the moment with the trials and tribulations of Joe Hart being discussed by every media outlet.
The simple shot stopping days have gone in many people’s opinions and the ability to be good with the ball at your feet is now paramount to anyone hoping to guard the goal at any of Europe’s leading clubs.
The sweeper keeper is very much en vogue at the moment and Ter Stegen is a prime example.
The German keeper is only 24, which used to be considered young for many goalkeepers, but since the emergence of Iker Casillas at Real Madrid the stigma to have an experienced man between the posts has eased somewhat.
The arrival of Manuel Neuer, at Schalke formerly and now Bayern Munich, has changed the face of goalkeeping forever.
Whilst of course being concerned with his keeping duties primarily, he has become the bench mark for all sweeper keepers.
Unfortunately for Ter Stegen, the presence of Neuer means that he will get fewer opportunities with the German national side but first and foremost he needed assurances over his future at the Camp Nou.
Having signed for Barcelona the summer before it had been assumed that Luis Enrique would select a number one and a backup keeper but instead the role was very much shared.
For Bravo, at 32, this was not so much of an issue and by keeping in the league also meant he had the lion’s share of time on the pitch.
At 24, Ter Stegen needs to be playing regularly if he is to maintain his improvement and gain enough experience to develop in the role.
With Barcelona intending to adopt the sweeper keeper to enable them to play a high line defensively the German is ideally suited.
Indeed, during the game against Athletic Bilbao at the weekend he made 51 passes during the game which is the most on record by a goalkeeper. Not only does this highlight the Catalans’ style of play, but also how efficient Ter Stegen is with the ball at his feet.
The role of the keeper has changed considerably in the last few years and adding to that the instability of his future it must have been a tough summer for Ter Stegen.
The arrival of Jasper Cillessen will certainly provide him with competition but he has had the assurances that he will play more games. With a settled keeper, the defence will also feel more confident and that will spread through the team.
It is an exciting season ahead for Ter Stegen and having the confidence and backing of those around him will aid his development.
He is an immensely talented keeper already and his displays in last season’s Champions League are testament to that.
Written by Andy Hunter
Follow Andy on Twitter @hunter67980
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