With every day that passes, we move 24 hours closer to Víctor Valdés’s departure from Barcelona, with the Spanish international having already declared his intention to leave once his contract expires in June. With no obvious replacement waiting in the wings, you can understand outlets like Marca dwelling on Barça’s potential acquisitions, even if every conversation comes down to the same guy.
According to the Spanish outlet, Barcelona has already contacted and come to an agreement with Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Marc-André ter Stegen, a player they’ve been linked to for the better part of two years. The extent of that agreement is unclear, but given the German’s age, skill, and club situation, the move makes sense. The 21-year-old, one of the keys behind Gladbach’s success, would be a prime candidate to move if Barcelona came calling.
“We hope that he stays with us, but when a club like Barcelona comes for you, well … We have to be realistic, but remain hopeful,” Gladbach head coach Lucien Favre said when asked about the potential move. Given how the ter Stegen-to-Barcelona rumors ended this summer, Favre’s resignation is enough to wonder whether the clubs have already shaken hands on a deal.
Marca goes on to name two other candidates, though there’s reason to doubt each. In the game of Thibaut Courtois, of course a team in need of a keeper would want him. Yet given the success he’s had at Atlético Madrid (and the problems Petr Cech is starting to have at Stamford Bridge), Chelsea’s unlikely to allow the huge Belgian to move. Next year, Courtois should be the Blues’ No. 1.
The other candidate being mentioned is Pepe Reina, a possibility that seems more obligatory than likely. A former goalkeeper in Barcelona’s youth academy, Reina has a natural link to the club, with his popularity among his fellow Spanish national team members also keeping his name in the conversation. But whereas Courtois is already one of the world’s best keepers and ter Stengen looks likely to develop into one, Reina has never enjoyed that type of distinction. While he has done well for Napoli this season, Reina to Barcelona seems like a fallback plan, not something a team like Barça would aspire toward six months ahead of time.
Ter Stengen’s potential move seems like the perfect confluence of circumstances, not the least of which being Barcelona losing of one of the world’s best keepers. As Barça try to replace a player who has spent over a decade with the team, the German international seems like a natural fit – another player who can spend a decade between the posts at Camp Nou.