Ter Stegen moves closer to replacing Valdes

Posted by Francesc Tomas

Marc-Andre ter Stegen has rejected the latest contract offer from Borussia Moenchengladbach and, as a result, has announced that he will be open to move away from the club that gave him his professional debut at only 18 years of age.

Now 21, the German international will certainly become a target for clubs all over Europe in coming weeks. However, if the majority of reports published around the net are to be believed, the young goalkeeper agreed to join Barcelona at the end of the current season several months ago.

I would be delighted to welcome Ter Stegen to the Camp Nou. His maturity, confidence to come off his line if needed and jaw-dropping reflexes make him one of the most promising prospects in European football. Marc's ability to pass the ball confidently from the back is definitely an added bonus that will be hugely useful within the Catalans' traditional philosophy. Any major club would be fortunate to add a player of his potential to their squad.

Thinking ahead, it will be strange to watch Barcelona at the Camp Nou and not seeing the charismatic Victor Valdes between the goalposts. Sure, many goalkeepers have defended the Catalans' colours over the years but his impressive individual stats and, more importantly, the 21 collective titles conquered during his time have already made him the most successful keeper in the club's 114 years of history.

However, the 31-year-old will also be remembered for his rebellious approach as a youngster and distant attitude towards fans and media -- especially during the period following his unexpected announcement to leave halfway through last season.

Personally, I would have preferred Valdes to leave last summer as, in my opinion, those who aren't committed to the long-term success of the club shouldn't be forced to stay. In addition, I feel his departure would have brought a reasonable amount of cash into the Blaugrana bank which could have being reinvested in signing his replacement -- allowing the Spanish international to leave for free in the summer doesn't necessarily strike me as great business.

Having said that, Valdes has been excellent so far this year and helped the team with several truly remarkable saves. Being able to put those off-the-pitch issues behind him shows a high degree of maturity and professionalism which is great to see during his last season as a Blaugrana.

Many Cules have argued that Valdes' decision to depart is closely linked to his lack of 'feeling' with Sandro Rosell following years of internal disagreements and not feeling valued as much as he would have liked to given his decisive contributions on the pitch. A considerable number of supporters question whether a more tactful, caring approach from the board would have ensured Valdes' continuity at the Camp Nou.

I guess we will never know. Regardless, it is clear that pressure keeps mounting on Rosell and, unfortunately for club stability, is likely to increase in coming months. Knowing that the Blaugrana president is not held in the highest regard by the legendary Johan Cruyff, Pep Guardiola or Eric Abidal will definitely not help him towards being re-elected in the summer of 2016.

Personally, I just hope whoever ends up leading the club after the election has the full support from players, staff and supporters. Internal battles have been hurting the club for far too long and it is certainly time for everyone within the Blaugrana community to respect what the majority vote for, whatever the outcome may be.

If reports are to be believed, Valdes will be replaced by Ter Stegen next season. I sincerely hope that the Camp Nou welcomes their new goalkeeper with open arms and gives him enough time and trust to adapt to a new team, a different league and an increased amount of ongoing pressure under the spotlight.

The fact that Valdes has only made 806 saves in his last 420 appearances is a clear indicator that, given the team's emphasis on controlling games and attacking the rival's defensive third, it is very likely that his replacement won't be faced with many shots either. However, dealing with such a reduced number of attempts could also be a disadvantage as any eventual errors would not be neither forgiven nor forgotten easily.

We all know that, however hard they prepare, keepers are likely to make mistakes at times. Whoever replaces Valdes will have to grow a very thick skin in order to accept criticism if results don't go their way and, at the same time, be aware that they will get very little recognition when they excel.

Goalkeepers are different. Let's hope the next one at Barcelona has what it takes to succeed and defend the goal as well, if not better, than the five-times-Zamora-winner has done since 2002.

152,000 Cules follow Francesc Tomas at @TomasESPN and Barcablog Facebook for news and opinion notes on Barcelona.

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