FC Barcelona, who currently sit in the unfamiliar position of second place in the Spanish La Liga table, face an exodus of top players at the end of the season, but they appear to have replaced at least one already.
Spain goalkeeper Victor Valdés announced last year that the 2013-14 season would be his last with FC Barcelona where, except for a brief hiatus in his teen years, he has been part of the club since he was 10 years old. The 32-year-old keeper is arguably the greatest FC Barcelona has ever had — and in fact, some doubt that he will actually go through with his decision to depart the legendary La Liga club.
“It remains to be seen if Victor Valdes will leave Barcelona, he might not, said Florentino Perez, president of FC Barcelona arch-rival Real Madrid. “He hasn’t left yet. Yes, he said he would, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”
While it is true that Valdes has not left yet, it is also true, at least according to a report on the world football news site Goal.com, FC Barcelona has already found his replacement.
And it appears that the Blaugrana are opting for youth, reaching a €12 million deal — that’s a little more than $16.6 million in U.S. cash — for 21-year-old German Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who was born the same year, 1992, that Valdes first joined the FC Barcelona youth organization.
The first-choice goalkeeper for German Bundesliga club Borussia Mönchengladbach since the beginning of the 2011-12 season, ter Stegen already has some experience against the best FC Barcelona has to offer. After being called up to the German national squad, in inly his second international match, ter Stegen stopped a penalty shot in Germany’s 2012 1-3 friendly loss to Argentina.
The Argentine player who took that thwarted penalty? FC Barcelona mega-star Lionel Messi.
According to the reports, ter Stegen will sign a contract with FC Barcelona that will take him through the end of the 2018-19 season.
With the transfer agreement for ter Stegen, FC Barcelona have taken one step toward what is expected to be an extensive rebuilding process for the Spanish giant, breaking up a team that dominated European football for half-a-decade.
In the past five terms, FC Barcelona has won the La Liga trophy four times, the UEFA Champions League twice and the Spanish Copa Del Rey twice. But the nucleus of that squad is breaking apart, with Valdés leaving, a well as longtime captain Carlos Puyol.
Forward David Villa transferred to Atletico Madrid before the start of the curent campaign, Brazilian back Dani Alves is also thought to be looking for an exit and according to some rumors, even Messi himself may be seeking a route out if FC Barcelona.