We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief with La Liga action finally back on the horizon once again.
Weeks of lockdown and the associative lack of football has driven many of us to the brink, so to get that part of our routine back in our lives will be more than welcomed.
Thereafter comes the serious business of course.
Transfer windows and transfer renewals. And it’s one of the latter that’s dominating Barca’s landscape at present.
Signed for a paltry €12m from Borussia Monchengladbach, Marc-Andre ter Stegen has surely been one of Barcelona’s best-value buys.
The German has played a full part in Barca’s successes of the last few years, and most of us will have lost count at how many times he’s been worth a point or more to the team.
Some of his saves have been genuinely world class, and how Manuel Neuer still gets into the national team at his expense is beyond a joke.
All of that said, one has to ask the question as to whether he’s holding a gun to the club’s head – again – over the renewal of his contract.
A stated aim from the player’s camp was that he wanted to be the best paid goalkeeper in the world.
That may well have to be revised in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s a certainty that his agent, Gerd vom Bruch, will still strike a hard bargain for his client.
Let’s not forget that back in 2016 he gave the club an ultimatum and threatened to join Manchester City, resulting in a renewal two years before his original five-year deal with the club was due to be revised.
Two further years added later means that he’s still under contract with the club until 2022 and with a buyout clause at €180m. For the time being at least, he remains a Barca player.
Wanting to be the best paid keeper on the planet would indicate that ter Stegen believes he’s the best exponent of the art.
Whilst there’s no suggestion that he doesn’t have the right to stand his ground in negotiations, it is his living after all, would Andre Onana not be worth pursuing as an alternative, for example?
On another note, and perhaps a little less important for many, MAtS likes the world to see that he is an ‘everyman’ who just goes about his normal business in the streets of Barcelona on his scooter. A man of the people if you will.
That seems at odds with the hard-nosed attitude that comes to the fore when money talks, and the character that the German national selectors find to be difficult.
A carefully cultivated image can easily be achieved with the right PR, though a willingness to also cross swords with Lionel Messi and others suggests a ‘difficult’ customer.
Not getting on with team-mates is nothing new, but the bottom line in ter Stegen’s case is that when all is said and done, and taking everything into account, is he worth the worth the spend?