For the past few days, the media has been abuzz with reports surrounding German national and Barca’s number one choice between the sticks, Marc-Andre ter Stegen. While the former Borussia Mönchengladbach star last signed a contract extension in 2017 which extended his services to 2022, it has been reported that the Blaugranes are interested in providing the 27-year-old with a new deal that would keep him at the club for another five years.
While this may seem like a premature if not unnecessarily costly decision if proven true, few could argue that Ter Stegen is not a player deserving of a high-pay grade and much praise. Having just celebrated his 200th appearance in a Barca shirt during the fixture against Sevilla (a game which Barca won 4-0) Ter Stegen has proven to be a loyal servant to the club and a key component of the team. Let’s take a look back at some of Ter Stegen’s finest moments on the field as a Barca star so far in what has already been an illustrious career.
In what is practically a steal in today’s financial terms, Barca signed Ter Stegen for a fee of €12 million from Borussia Mönchengladbach on July 1st 2014. While this move may have been seen as an attempt to fill the void left by an ageing Victor Valdes, few could have imagined the mark that Ter Stegen would leave on his new club in the coming years.
Ter Stegen’s debut season at the club, while successful, was marred with peculiarities. While No.13 Claudio Bravo started as Barca’s first choice goalkeeper in La Liga fixtures, Luis Enrique opted to select Ter Stegen for their Champions League matches. Despite lacking frequent game time, the German youngster still possessed the necessary focus to bring the 2014/15 Champions League trophy home to the Camp Nou.
Having played all 13 fixtures, Ter Stegen managed to keep an impressive six clean sheets throughout the campaign. This feat becomes even more impressive when considering the weight of Barca’s opposition. Clean sheets included Barca’s 2-0 away win over Ajax in the group stage, a 1-0 home victory over Man City in the Round of 16, a 2-0 quarter-final victory over PSG, and a 3-0 thumping of Bayern Munich in the semi-final at the Camp Nou. This already showed Ter Stegen’s worthiness of the Blaugranes’ No.1 jersey. Not to mention that Ter Stegen also led Barca to a Copa del Rey win, resulting in the Blaugranes enjoying a coveted treble.
While this success was not to be repeated in the following season, Ter Stegen did manage to make his La Liga debut, eventually appearing in seven league games, seven Copa del Rey matches and 10 Champions League fixtures. While appearances may have been scarce, he nevertheless made an impact, clinching three clean sheets in each competition. Such clean sheets included a 7-0 drubbing of Valencia in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg, a 2-0 victory over Sevilla in the final, and a 2-0 away win at Arsenal in the Champions League last 16. Ultimately, Barca would retain their La Liga title and clinch the UEFA Super Cup, a match in which Ter Stegen would also feature.
While the 2016/17 season may have been one to forget for the Blaugranes, it was the season where Ter Stegen became a La Liga regular. In 36 appearances, Ter Stegen kept 13 clean sheets while only conceding 33 goals at an average of under a goal per game. He yet again led Barca on a decent Champions League run, which included a 4-0 thrashing of Man City in the group stage as well as a 7-0 humiliation of Celtic.
After a forgetful season for Barca, Ter Stegen yet again became a pivotal piece in the Blaugranes’ 2017/18 successes. Ernesto Valverde’s debut season in charge saw Barca bring the league trophy back to the Camp Nou, as well as retain the Copa del Rey and the Spanish Super Cup. Ter Stegen’s league performance was even more impressive than in the previous season, as the then-25 year-old managed to keep an outstanding 19 clean sheets in 37 league appearances, while only conceding 28 goals. Highlights included the 3-0 defeat of Real Madrid at the Bernebau, as well as 3-0 victories over Juventus and Chelsea in the Champions League.
Finally, we come to last season. In what promised to be one of Barca’s greatest campaigns, the Blaugranes fell short in both the Champions League and the Copa del Rey, yet nevertheless retained the La Liga trophy for a third consecutive season. While embarrassed by Liverpool in their semi-final second leg clash, Barca nevertheless played attractive football throughout their Champions League campaign. Ter Stegen managed to keep six clean sheets in 11 games, with standout performances coming in the 3-0 defeat of Liverpool in the first leg, a quarter-final 3-0 defeat of Manchester United, and a 2-0 victory over Inter Milan in the group stage.
All in all, Ter Stegen has enjoyed much success thus far at the Blaugranes. Four La Liga wins, four Copas del Rey, three Spanish Super Cups as well as a coveted Champions League trophy proves to be an impressive haul in five seasons with the Blaugranes. At 27 years of age and a lot of fight left in him, Ter Stegen looks just as determined as ever to bring the Champions League back to Barca, as well as retain the club’s existing domestic dominance. While 200 appearances into his Barca career, one can’t help but imagine that we are still yet to see some of Ter Stegen’s finest goalkeeping work.