Germany’s ‘greatest-ever player’ Franz Beckenbauer believes Marc-Andre ter Stegen has finally caught up to Manuel Neuer’s level.
Beckenbauer, who was recently lauded “the best player in the world of all time” by 1986 World Cup winner Andreas Brehme, thinks there is little to separate Ter Stegen and Neuer in terms of quality.
Is Ter Stegen on Neuer’s level? Five key things to know…
- Since 2016 Ter Stegen has been Barcelona’s No.1 goalkeeper.
- The Germany international has forged a reputation as one of the finest shot-stoppers in world football.
- Only Jan Oblak (15) has kept more clean sheets than Ter Stegen (11) in La Liga this season.
- Neuer has come in for some criticism recently with many believing he isn’t quite the force he once was prior to his extended injury layoff.
- Despite this national coach Joachim Low continues to select Neuer ahead of Ter Stegen.
Following a metatarsal fracture that saw Neuer miss nearly an entire year of first team action for Bayern between April 2017 and April 2018, Ter Stegen stepped in and filled the void between the sticks for Die Mannschaft.
The 26-year-old would have been forgiven for thinking the mantle had been passed over with Neuer entering his twilight years and discernibly off peak following his return to action.
However, Low has continued to show faith in his skipper, even the old guard clear-out – in which Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels and Thomas Muller were all axed from national selection – spared the veteran gloveman of his position.
Beckenbauer – like Low – does believe Neuer has the capacity to return to his former glory days, but was also quick to highlight the chasm in quality between the current No.1 and Ter Stegen has been significantly condensed.
“Ter Stegen has caught up a lot, but he has benefited from the injury of Manuel Neuer,” he told Sky Sport Germany.
“Manuel Neuer will pull together and continue to be the number one. I trust him. But Ter Stegen will not let up.”
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Axed trio will return
When Low announced his decision to effectively retire Boateng, Hummels and Muller from international duty, he was making a statement of intent, in his quest to rid the nation of its recent footballing woes.
Germany were eliminated from the World Cup in the group stages and followed up with relegation from the top tier of the inaugural Nations League just a few months later.
As such, Low included a number of fresh faces in his latest squad announcement with Niklas Stark and Maximilian Eggestein receiving their first call-ups, while Marcel Halstenberg returned following a two-year hiatus.
And the early signs have looked promising with the nation following up a 1-1 draw with Serbia by clinching three points in their Euro 2020 qualifying match against the Netherlands on Sunday.
However, Beckenbauer believes the cull is only a temporary measure and the 2014 World Cup winning trident will return in due course.
“I understand that this is a temporary non-selection and you look at how the boys are developing and that they can be brought back if needed,” he added.