Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen has admitted he considered leaving the club in 2016 due to his poor start to life in Catalonia.
The German is now considered one of the best goalkeepers in Europe but had to fight it out with Claudio Bravo for the number one spot at the Nou Camp after joining from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2014.
How close was Ter Stegen to leaving Barcelona? Five key things to know…
- Marc-Andre ter Stegen joined Barcelona from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2014.
- The German had to play second fiddle to Claudio Bravo in his first two seasons.
- Ter Stegen was restricted to cup appearances and a handful of rotational league games.
- And the goalkeeper has admitted he was starting to think about leaving Barcelona before the club finally put their faith in him.
- Ter Stegen has kept 74 clean sheets in 175 games for Barcelona.
Bravo arrived at Barcelona at the same time as Ter Stegen, signing from Real Sociedad and was the club’s preferred choice in replacing the outgoing Victor Valdes as number one.
This continued for the next two seasons, with Ter Stegen left to live off appearances in cup competitions and a handful of league games.
As a result, Ter Stegen has admitted he thought about leaving Barcelona, telling Goal: “Basically, Claudio [Bravo] and I both managed to deal well with the situation [of competing for the No.1 shirt]. He is a great goalkeeper who earned the place back then. The coach did not have to change because he had a goalkeeper in the league who showed good performances.
“Of course, you start to ponder [your future] because playing football is the most important thing. It would not have been better if the coach had said: ‘You’re playing in the league now and [Bravo] in the other competitions.’ That was not what I wanted and in 2016 came the situation where I had to think about leaving Barca.
“The club was up to date all the time. Claudio and I dealt with the situation openly and said we did not like it. At some point there is the moment when it is no longer tenable. Then Barcelona clearly made a decision and decided for me. I think I have paid it back so far.”
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But, Ter Stegen would stay put with Barcelona selling Bravo to Manchester City as the Chilean became Pep Guardiola’s new number one in the Premier League.
And the German has come a long way since thinking about leaving, insisting he is still happy at Barcelona with three years remaining on his current deal.
“It’s wonderful in Barcelona,” he added. “I love the city. My wife is happy too. We have everything we need here.
“Of course, I miss the family from time to time, but they have always the opportunity to visit me.
“I have another three and a half years contract. How it looks then, I cannot say now. But what I can say now is that I enjoy the current situation and enjoy going to stand on the pitch every day.”
Guardiola: Ter Stegen chose to stay at Barcelona
Shortly after Guardiola took charge of Manchester City, the Spaniard was looking to sign a new goalkeeper with confidence low in Joe Hart.
Immediately his head turned to former club Barcelona, with both Ter Stegen and Bravio unhappy with their situation.
And, though Bravo would end up signing for City, Guardiola implied Ter Stegen was his first choice when speaking to reporters in October 2016.
“If you are talking about this summer, I never called Messi. I never called Neymar, Luis Suarez, (Sergio) Busquets, (Andres) Iniesta, I didn’t call anybody,” Guardiola said at the time.
“As for Ter Stegen I knew that he wanted to play all the time. We got in touch. He wasn’t happy with his situation. We needed a goalkeeper like Claudio or Ter Stegen.
“Claudio came and Ter Stegen decided to stay. If I ever called a player playing in any other club it would be in a special situation of not playing, and it would be my right to – but I never called Leo Messi.”