For months, Barcelona fans knew that the club was close to signing Marc-André ter Stegen. Obviously, he was regarded as the perfect replacement for Victor Valdes.
Ter Stegen was known as the “next Neuer” and “one of the best young goalkeepers in the world”. I have never been a fan of young player hype because in most occasions everything that was said turns out to be false. However, it would be wrong to ignore that there is something very special about Ter Stegen.
News about Luis Enrique being interested in Real Sociedad’s goalkeeper Claudio Bravo began to emerge as well. Claudio did not exactly have the best record at Real Sociedad.
Many people doubted Bravo because of his errors at Real Sociedad. The club insisted on signing him anyway. While transfer rumors were flying in and out, Claudio Bravo was putting on an excellent performance for his country at the World Cup in Brazil.
So, Barcelona suddenly had two new goalkeepers who are both capable of being starters. Let’s take a deeper look at the two different styles of these goalkeepers.
Claudio is the ultimate example of a traditional goalkeeper. He does everything by the book. It’s as simple as pushing the ball away when it comes near your goal and catching it whenever you can. There is nothing too fancy about Claudio Bravo. Claudio is 31 years old and he gives the obvious impression of an experienced goalkeeper in his 30s and I am sure the examples in this category are endless. He is a goalkeeper coaches depend on purely for experience and character. Just like many of the older players on the field, he simply yells out: “Calm down, I’ve done this before”.
Experience is an attribute of extreme importance and this importance is gradually fading away because of rising young talents. This, however, is a disastrous mistake.
Many football fans, including myself, believe that having experienced centre-backs and goalkeepers is one of the most crucial parts of setting up a team. As shiny and new as young players may appear to be, chances are they might break under pressure and it happened a lot before. After all, most of the older excellent centre-backs and goalkeepers were once kids and committed several mistakes until they gained the character and experience that these two positions require.
Coaches want to look at the bench when selecting a lineup and seeing mature and confident players they can depend on precisely in defense. All of this brings me back to Claudio Bravo.
Experience factor aside, Claudio is a goalkeeper with excellent reflex and diving attributes. Throughout the season, he has shown that it takes a lot to beat him. Whether it’s a deflected shot, a header, a shot from outside the area, or any other type of danger, Claudio seemed very determined to prove what he is capable of. And honestly, he succeeded.
He managed 55 saves in La Liga this season. With the help of a very organized defense, he managed to keep 15 clean sheets. Barcelona conceded only 17 goals in La Liga this season. Obviously, the defense played a huge role in accomplishing that. To be even more accurate, it is worth pointing out that experienced centre-back, Gerard Pique, has been displaying a perfect mature character while playing. With such characters on the field, it becomes generally difficult for a defense to break.
Claudio Bravo is the traditional goalkeeper you would want to have on your team. However, he is not easy on the eyes. He won’t try to impress you or put on a show because probably he doesn’t even have the skills for it. He knows what he’s capable of, though. And from what the fans have seen this season, he is pretty damn good.
Ter Stegen arrived as the future of this club. He doesn’t completely occupy the present because Claudio Bravo is the goalkeeper in La Liga. However, many believe that this is a transitional phase for Ter Stegen and soon enough he is going to be recognized as Barcelona’s main goalkeeper.
Ter Stegen’s style of play is completely different to Claudio’s style of play. He has always been recognized as a goalkeeper who is good with his feet and it was the reason that made him a main target for a club like Barcelona. He crosses with both feet with excellent accuracy. He maintains a very calm attitude when dealing with the ball. He is more focused on how he is going to help start another attack for his team than simply saving the ball or pushing it away. In many occasions, people tend to trust him much more with the ball.
Ter Stegen previously displayed how great he can be when he is forced to dive or jump for a ball. His athleticism is outstanding. He saved multiple shots that required excellent reflexes as well. Ter Stegen played against attacking giants like Ibrahimovic and Aguero in just a matter of months and has displayed a very confident growing character.
His character makes him stand out. Ter Stegen can shift from being confident to being cocky in a matter of seconds. Deep down, fans love Ter Stegen because he brings something different and relatively new. He is the exciting young goalkeeper the world awaits. Let’s be honest, everyone loves a young exciting face.
Not so much could be said about Ter Stegen as fans have seen him much less than they’ve seen Claudio Bravo but Marc-André is definitely a keeper. (I’ll get my coat)
There has always been a debate around these two great goalkeepers. On one hand you have Claudio Bravo who expresses pure experience and the traditional image of a mature goalkeeper and on the other you have this exciting kid who adds something new and contributes to Barcelona’s style of play while being excellent between the bars as well.
Who do I pick? I pick both.
Bravo will continue to be the wall Barcelona depends on when the defense suffers while Ter Stegen will continue to grow to represent the unknown future that excites everyone.