Money may not be a critical factor for free-spending Pep Guardiola, but even he must admit that Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s asking price at Barcelona may have risen far higher than it deserves to have done.
The German stopper was bought by the Catalan giants for €12m ahead of the 2014/15 La Liga campaign and in the two seasons since, he has predominantly played second fiddle in the goalkeeping ranks to Claudio Bravo.
Despite this ‘reserve’ status, it may take as much as Ter Stegen’s reported buyout clause of €80m to prise him from the Nou Camp, with Guardiola also rumoured to have told his team to secure the deal at any cost.
The 24-year-old is an obvious fit into Guardiola’s philosophy of effectively using his goalkeeper as another passing avenue. They need to be calm and capable in possession and begin to launch attacks from deep.
In his first season at Barcelona, Ter Stegen had a passing success rate of 85%.
Beyond Manuel Neuer, he is arguably the best in existence in terms of distribution and additionally has a solid command of his box.
However, there is another German goalkeeper in the same age range, whose quality is in the same ballpark as Ter Stegen, but will come at a much cheaper price.
Bernd Leno has more first-team experience since being handed his Bayer Leverkusen debut in 2011, was seemingly on par with Ter Stegen in Joachim Loew’s eyes to be Neuer’s Germany understudy at Euro 2016 and is said to be a potential Barcelona target should Luis Enrique cash in on his current German stopper.
These factors all suggest there is little ultimately between the pair, with Leno possibly the better sweeper-keeper should Guardiola be intent on setting his team up tactically with a high defensive line.
Leno could have left Leverkusen for €18m before the end of April and a release clause is still said to exist in his current deal in Germany.
For less than a third of the cost of Ter Stegen, Man City could have a goalkeeper pretty much on par with their assumed number-one target.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.