Barcelona will be without their second captain and the world’s best goalkeeper for an extended period of time as Marc-André ter Stegen has undergone successful surgery to correct a lower back issue.
Barça didn’t set a timeline for his return, but there is optimism that the German will be ready to come back before the Champions League knockouts in February. Until then the Blaugrana will count on young Iñaki Peña, who has proven he’s good enough to play in Ter Stegen’s stead over the next couple of months.
But there has been at least some speculation that Barça could look for a low-cost goalkeeper option in the January market to have as insurance, with free agent David De Gea one of the names mentioned.
Manager Xavi Hernández was asked about the club’s plans for the goalkeeper position in the winter transfer window in his pre-match press conference ahead of the La Liga clash against Girona, and the boss made it clear the club has full confidence in Peña and will stick with the Spaniard until Ter Stegen returns, which according to Xavi will happen sooner rather than later.
Xavi: “We will NOT sign a new GK to replace ter Stegen — as we have confidence in our players and Inaki Pena has been playing at a very high level”.— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) December 9, 2023
“We also believe that ter Stegen will come back soon”. pic.twitter.com/4QdI2Y83Sq
Any positive update on Ter Stegen’s status is welcome. Back injuries are never easy to deal with and surgery is usually the last resort, but it looks as though the German will be at 100% when we get to the most important part of the season.
Iñaki Peña has already shown he’s good enough to play in goal between now and mid-February, and as long as he stays healthy there shouldn’t be any real goalkeeping concerns for Barça.