’Gladbach hint goalkeeper Ter Stegen is off to Barca

Reuters

Wed, Jan 08, 2014 - Page 18

Borussia Moenchengladbach sporting director Max Eberl has hinted that Marc-Andre ter Stegen will replace Victor Valdes at Barcelona at the end of the season after the Germany goalkeeper rejected a contract extension.

The 21-year-old, who has been consistently linked in German and Spanish media with a switch to Barca, has a contract with ’Gladbach until next year, but Eberl said he had rejected a new deal and the Bundesliga club had decided to allow him to join “a top European side where he can be No. 1.”

Valdes announced last season he was quitting because the pressure of being Barca’s first choice for a decade had taken its toll, and he wanted to experience different cultures and different languages.

Speculation has mounted in recent weeks Valdes could accept a lucrative offer from Ligue 1 side AS Monaco or English Premier League club Manchester City.

“Marc has informed us that he won’t accept our offer and therefore will not extend his contract with us,” Eberl said on ’Gladbach’s Web site on Monday. “It’s a great shame from our point of view, but we must accept it. We suspect that he will join the club [Barcelona] about which there has been a lot of speculation. I fully expect that we will have to find a new ’keeper for next season.”

Valdes, who returned from injury in Sunday’s 4-0 La Liga win against Elche, has made a host of vital interventions this season that helped avert an early setback to the Spanish champions’ bid for a fifth La Liga title in six years.

He has been praised by coach Gerardo Martino and his teammates for his professionalism and his form has prompted calls for Spain coach Vicente del Bosque to make him the goalkeeper ahead of captain Iker Casillas.

His decision to leave Barca, where he has spent his entire professional career, means they will need a replacement with similar ball playing skills who can fit in with the club’s style of playing the ball out from the back.

Eberl said Moenchengladbach had given Ter Stegen, who has a market value of 11 million euros (US$15 million) on Web site Transfermarkt.com, assurances when he extended his contract two years ago that he could leave if a “top club” came calling.

“This situation now seems to have arrived,” Eberl said. “I expect we will come to an agreement with this club on a transfer. Borussia is not in a position to ignore exorbitant fees. We must see it as an opportunity to bring in new players with the proceeds.”

Ter Stegen made his debut for Germany in a 5-3 defeat against Switzerland in May 2012, the first of three appearances, including a 4-3 loss against the US in June last year when he scored a bizarre own-goal.

He suggested he would remain with Moenchengladbach until the end of the season.

“It was not an easy decision,” Ter Stegen told the club’s Web site. “I have an unbelievable amount to thank the club for and I still want to put in more effort for them. We want to perform well as a team in the second half of the season.”