Saturday, August 20, 2022

Barcelona Agree Deal For International Custodian; Why This Is A Match Made In Heaven

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Snehanjan Banerjee
Snehanjan used to a former columnist at The 4th Official. Fan of KK, Cricket and Liverpool (in no particular order).

Since joining Barcelona from La Liga colleagues Real Sociedad, Claudio Bravo played a key role for the Blaugrana in the last two seasons leading the Catalan giants to back to back La Liga titles. However, no matter how many trophies you win, you can never have two world-class goalkeepers at your disposal and keep both happy. Barcelona’s tactics to play Bravo as the number one in La Liga and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen in Cup competitions worked well for two seasons but when both demanded to be the undisputed first-choice, Barcelona had to part ways with one.

When you have to make a choice between Ter Stegen and Bravo, the criteria would be pretty obvious i.e. who has a bigger future. It was always on the cards that 33-year-old Chilean hero Bravo would be shown the exit door ahead of Ter Stegen who is just 24 and look like a player who can serve for more than a decade. As Claudio Bravo’s move to Manchester City was announced, reports started emerging that Ajax keeper Cillessen would arrive at Camp Nou to replace the Copa America hero.

When Bravo was being linked heavily with a move to Manchester City, a player who reportedly attracted Barcelona’s interest was Valencia keeper Diego Alves. However, a move for Cillessen makes much more sense when compared to a move for Alves.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - DECEMBER 10: Jasper Cillessen of Ajax in action during the group A UEFA Europa League match between AFC Ajax and Molde FK held at Amsterdam Arena on December 10, 2015 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS – DECEMBER 10: Jasper Cillessen of Ajax in action during the group A UEFA Europa League match between AFC Ajax and Molde FK held at Amsterdam Arena on December 10, 2015 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

For the kind of football Barcelona play, they need a keeper who is not only good in shot-stopping but also is good with the ball. Cillessen fit the bill perfectly. Just like Barcelona, Ajax’s game is also based on possession and the goalkeeper initiates the passing game. Cillessen, a trusted general at the Amsterdam Area for five years, is a brilliant sweeper keeper and would fit in easily in Barcelona’s system.

With 142 appearances for Ajax till date and 30 international caps for the Dutch national team, Cillessen has the experience Barcelona are looking for. Ter Stegen, despite being a highly-rated keeper, lacks experience at the international stage thanks to Manuel Neuer, the undisputed best keeper in the world, keeping the goal for Germany. Cillessen would be a brilliant cover for Ter Stegen at Camp Nou.

It was a big surprise when then Dutch national team manager Louis van Gaal opted for an inexperienced Cillessen under the bar ahead of Tim Krul in the 2014 FIFA World Cup but the 27-year-old took the opportunity perfectly and was one of the reasons why such a weak Oranje side went on to the semi-finals of the competition. A deal for the Dutch international looks like a no-brainer from the Blaugrana.

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