Mundo Deportivo are reporting that a deal for Borussia Mönchengladbach goalkeeper Marc-André Ter Stegen (21) is nearing conclusion and could be announced next week. The young German keeper would continue at his current club on loan for another year, while Victor Valdés sees out the remainder of his contract.
But reports out of England are complicating that scenario, with reliable sources like the BBC and Sky Sports claiming that Liverpool have agreed a transfer fee with Sunderland for young Belgian keeper Simon Mignolet. Such a transfer would strongly suggest that Liverpool’s current keeper, Barça youth product Pepe Reina (30), might be leaving, with Barcelona the obvious destination. Barça have been strongly linked with Reina this summer, and while many culés moan every time they hear his name, I think it might actually be a good bit of business.
Despite his press conference, it is by no means a given that Valdés will be remaining at Barça next year. The announcement made the option of remaining clear, but should an offer arrive that is acceptable to both Barça and Valdés, I would not be surprised at all to see him sold this summer. Those funds should then be able to cover Reina’s transfer, a net zero cost compared to the alternative of Valdés seeing out his contract until 2014.
Reina may get a lot of flak from fans for his errors, but so does Valdés – in reality the two keepers are more similar at this point in their careers than culés would like to admit. Moreover, while nobody can question Valdés’ commitment to the team, Reina’s performance with Barça would likely be intensely motivated by the chance to prove himself for his former club after so many years – much like Diego López’s inspired return to Real Madrid this spring. Furthermore, one detail many forget is that José Manuel Pinto is also departing Barça in 2014. While backup keepers are often viewed more as a running joke than an important part of a team, there is a huge difference between Iker Casillas or Petr Čech and a 22-year-old new arrival when it comes to playing every game of the season. Having a veteran, quality keeper who can rotate and provide stability would be invaluable in easing the pressure off Ter Stegen and allowing him to adapt to Barcelona in the 2014/2015 season.
Ter Stegen may be Barça’s goalkeeper of the future: young, immensely talented, and widely reported to be the best with his feet out of this entire young German crop, despite a high-profile error against the US. Reina is a quality, veteran keeper who is also homegrown, likable, and well known to the Spanish players at Barça. Between the two of them, Barça could have a plan to fill one of our most notoriously problematic positions and the gaping hole left by a club legend with minimum short-term fuss and the potential for long-term success.
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