Barcelona: Has Bravo Played Himself into Contention for a Starting Spot?

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Barcelona: Has Bravo Played Himself into Contention for a Starting Spot?
Manu Fernandez/Associated Press
Claudio Bravo's performances in the World Cup have done him no harm at all.

Barcelona acted decisively once it became clear Victor Valdes would not go back on his decision to leave the Catalans.

Despite not announcing the deal (via the official club website) for some while, it was clear Borussia Monchengladbach's Marc-Andre ter Stegen was the club's choice to replace loyal servant Valdes.

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press
Barcelona had been chasing Marc-Andre ter Stegen for four years.

Reported by Marc Peiron of Welobasporting director Andoni Zubizarreta noted at the press conference to announce ter Stegen's signature that Barca had actually been following the youngster for four years and were delighted to get their man.

That feeling was reciprocated by the German, per Football Espana:

I think my strengths fit in with Barca as I don’t think there’s any other team that really likes playing football. I think I fit in perfectly and I want to show it in future.

I’m a goalkeeper who likes to participate and also runs some risks. Nowadays I think it has become normal to take some risks. That’s my style [...] I think it’s the perfect job.

At just 22 years of age, ter Stegen becomes Barca's youngest-ever goalkeeper, per FCBarcelona.com, and clearly the investment of €12 million and an €80 million buy-out clause suggests the Blaugrana have high hopes for their new man.

So why has there been such willingness by the Catalans to pay the same amount of money on Claudio Bravo from Real Sociedad

Per AS via Tom Conn at Inside Spanish Football, the deal to take Bravo to Camp Nou has been completed with just an announcement to be made and the vastly more experienced 31-year-old is unlikely to be content with a place on the bench.

Iker Casillas and Diego Lopez have shown at Real Madrid that having two high-quality keepers on the roster, with one of them playing La Liga games only and the other cup games, doesn't really work. Indeed, would Casillas have performed so poorly at the World Cup if he had played more games? Highly debatable.

Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Can having two high quality goalkeepers competing for the jersey ever work? The Casillas/Lopez experiment would suggest not.

For Barca to adopt the same policy, which you could fairly conclude at this stage might well be the case, it is a recipe for disaster.

Despite his successes in Germany, are the Blaugrana taking a viewpoint that because of his tender years the job might initially be a bit too big for ter Stegen to handle, and therefore Bravo is a safe pair of hands to be called upon should the German need a short time out of the limelight?

Or does the club, particularly Luis Enrique, genuinely feel they can make it work?

Jose Manuel Pinto was perfect as Valdes' backup keeper precisely because he never expected more than the odd game here or there. He wasn't a bad keeper even if he did leave the supporters' hearts in their mouths on more than one occasion towards the end of his contract.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Jose Manuel Pinto was an ideal reserve goalkeeper for Barcelona.

Bravo, on the other hand, has excelled when thrust into the limelight.

The captain of Chile has already been a revelation at this World Cup. In the first group game against Australia, only Jason Davidson and Mark Milligan from the opposition had more touches in the match than Bravo (56), per WhoScored.com

He was busy, alert and attentive throughout and commanded his area expertly. Against Spain, he was even better.

Clive Rose/Getty Images
Claudio Bravo was the man-of-the-match in Chile's win against Spain.

A man-of-the-match performance with six saves, per WhoScored, saw him carry his team to a well-deserved 2-0 victory over the reigning champions, a defeat which saw them knocked out of the competition.

As "shop window" performances go, Bravo couldn't really have done any more to impress his new paymasters whilst ter Stegen presumably sits at home watching on television.

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In that sort of form it would be almost impossible not to pick Bravo and if you factor in that, per Fox Soccer, he was the fourth-best performing goalkeeper in the league throughout last season; his credentials speak for themselves.

Where does that leave ter Stegen?

Either way, Barcelona are digging themselves quite a hole it would seem. Competition for places is great, but with so many other personnel changes, the last thing Barca need is upheaval in the last line of defence.

But has Bravo done enough to be considered first choice for the start of next season?

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