Liverpool continue to be linked with a move for Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, with the latest rumours claiming manager Jurgen Klopp is preparing a £13 million offer for the German stopper.
He was at fault for Manchester City's opening goal in the Capital One Cup final on Sunday, allowing a low shot from Fernandinho to squirm underneath him and into the back of the net. Per Squawka Football, it wasn't the first major mistake the Belgium international has made this year:
No player has made more defensive errors in the Premier League this season than Simon Mignolet (5). pic.twitter.com/zJ1wYdB24Q— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 28, 2016
He redeemed himself by making several key stops after the goal, highlighting just how frustrating he can be to watch. Mignolet is one of the most instinctive reflex keepers in the Premier League, capable of producing tremendous saves, but they're frequently offset by struggles on high balls and glaring mistakes.
ESPN FC's James Tyler isn't sure whether the good outweighs the bad:
Simon Mignolet can make several heart-pounding, brave stops but let a shot leak in at his near post. Better GK if he has less time to think— James Tyler (@JamesTylerESPN) February 28, 2016
Fans would love for the Reds to invest in a top-quality stopper good enough to relegate Mignolet to the bench, but such players are in short supply. And with Barcelona having two star goalkeepers in their squad, Ter Stegen almost becomes the option transfer gossip suggests by default.
The 23-year-old is Barcelona's main starter in the UEFA Champions League, while Claudio Bravo sees most of his minutes in La Liga. Of the two, Bravo has enjoyed the better season, as Ter Stegen has also been vulnerable to the odd mental error.
His tendency to play far off his line opens the door to long-range shots, and Alessandro Florenzi took full advantage during a Champions League match earlier this season:
That strike would have beaten most top keepers, but if Ter Stegen hadn't been so far in front of his own goal, the Italian wouldn't have thought of pulling the trigger in the first place.
The former Borussia Monchengladbach man isn't without his flaws, but he still ranks as one of the best young stoppers in the world. His work on his line is incredible, and he's a strong option in the passing game as well—a vital aspect of modern goalkeeping.
Per ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan, his skills as a distributor were on full display in the 2-0 win over Arsenal:
Ter Stegen completed 34 of 36 passes [!] last night. Picked out each of his teammates [except Alba] over 90 mins: https://t.co/NwDGv2ikSq— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) February 24, 2016
With Bravo continuing to impress for the Catalans, a move for Ter Stegen will always seem possible; although, it might not be plausible. The Germany international is still just 23 years old, and Barcelona know full well he has tremendous long-term potential.
They're not about to let him walk only because they have another established starter, and Ter Stegen is yet to give any indication he's unhappy with the current system, which mainly sees him play on the European stage.
The Catalans have a number of fantastic prospects, including Inaki Pena and Jose Aurelio Suarez. The former in particular looks like a future superstar, and if the Blaugrana want to work him into the team in the near future, they may have to sell one of their two starters to do so.
But if they do, Bravo is perhaps a more likely candidate, due to Ter Stegen's higher upside. Here's a look at some of the German's best saves:
The proposed bid of £13 million seems absurdly low for an established stopper who is still years removed from entering his prime, and it will likely take a lot more money to convince Barcelona to sell.
The door may open once Ter Stegen decides he's no longer content to sit on the bench in La Liga and wants to be an everyday starter, but until that happens, a summer move seems unlikely.