It would be quite hard to think whether Barça would’ve achieved what they’ve achieved had they not had someone as great as Claudio Bravo back between the posts these past two years. Since the frightening days of Victor Valdes and his epic back up Pinto; Barça had been starving over a reliable goalie for the past decade. These worries became almost normal for a Culé back in the day. Heck, it almost felt like a challenge to see how good our defence line is every time we fielded Pinto on the pitch.
Most of you however forgot that frightening feeling every time the ball was near our goal, and that’s because we had a man of confidence and consistency between these posts – Claudio Bravo. He wasn’t supposed to be here though, it was Marc ter-Stegen the man who wore the number 1 jersey for the Azulgrana. But then again, trophies needed to be won, and a treble was indeed obtained that year, along with the establishment of the goalkeeper roles. The Chilean would find himself in all of Barça’s leagues games, gaining more caps, experience and maintaining his consistency; while the German had to settle for Cup games in Spain and Europe, whom when combined are sporadic and a lot less consistent than Claudio’s opportunities.
The last two years were incredible, with a treble followed by a double, it almost feels like we’re flying high and dreaming once again, the way Pep made us dream. The reality however is that as our squad reforms with young arrivals and old departures, so does the goalkeeper dilemma.
Marc at the age of 22 didn’t come to Barça to play second fiddle for long. With sufficient experience in harder and more stressful games in the Champions League, Marc grew and matured into a young prodigy. Now at the age of 24, Marc was supposed to be heavily compared to David De Gea and Thibaut Courtois – and that just hasn’t happened yet. The reason behind it is simply the Chileno‘s presence.
It’s true Luis Enrique didn’t ask for Marc, but you’d be wrong to think he didn’t admire the man. Not so long ago, it was Marc the man in the transfer saga rollercoaster of rumours who was headed to Manchester City, not Claudio. And yet he was kept tight. And with such young signings, you could already see how youthful 2017’s Barça is going to be. That era cannot go further with ter-Stegen still trying to figure out his place, it wouldn’t be the right way to manage a team of young leaders.
That’s why I think it’s good for Barça to see Bravo leave. This man could very well be one of the best men – if not the best man – we’ve had between the posts. But at the age of 33 in the wilderness of football, Bravo will go on to chase great feats abroad. He’s the goalkeeper we deserve, the one who’s brought us great security in the last couple of years, but he’s not the man we need right now as the new squad begins to take shape – that man is Marc.
Sure, Marc still has to go through another proper learning curve, but it’s a curve he’s been waiting to take head on since he first learned of his jersey number. He’ll make mistakes, just like De Gea and Courtois used to make mistakes early on. They’re now the undisputed best young goalkeepers in Europe. Marc however will have the sufficient experience and knowledge to take that next step, and hopefully carry the responsibility even further than the two – and he just can’t do that without enough playing time and consistency.