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Manuel Neuer Says He's 'Never Had a Problem' with Marc-Andre ter Stegen

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistDecember 23, 2019

Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and Germany's goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen (R) attend a training session of the German national football in Dortmund, western Germany on October 08, 2019. - Germany plays a friendly soccer match against Argentina in Dortmund on Wednesday. (Photo by Ina FASSBENDER / AFP) (Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images)
INA FASSBENDER/Getty Images

Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has said he's "never had a problem" with Germany team-mate Marc-Andre ter Stegen despite rumours of a rift between the pair. 

There have been growing calls for Barcelona stopper Ter Stegen, 27, to become Germany's new No. 1, leading to apparent tensions between the two countrymen fighting for a single place in the team.

But Neuer, 33, told Kicker (h/t Goal's Peter Hanson) the team remains the priority for both players despite reports of a falling out between him and Ter Stegen:

"In principle, far too much was made of it. I've never had a problem with Marc. We train for the national team together, but we don't call each other when he plays with Barcelona or I play with Bayern, and we wish ourselves the best of luck.

"We sit together at breakfast, have a normal conversation—as team-mates, not as competitors. Each of us tries to show our best performance for the team so that we can be successful.

"This is important because we play in a team. In football, it is not like in handball with clapping and hugging and you hold the next seven meters. Football is a different culture."

The head-to-head reached a tipping point in mid-September when Ter Stegen appeared at a press conference, railing against Neuer for previously criticising his comments regarding a lack of Germany playing time.

Ter Stegen perhaps has good cause to be upset, too, considering he was named the second-best goalkeeper in the world in the 2019 Yachine Trophy vote, per France Football:

France Football @francefootball

Here is the 2019 Yachine Trophy Top 3 ⤵️ 1. @Alissonbecker 2. @mterstegen1 3. @edersonmoraes93 #ballondor #yachinetrophy https://t.co/IctvXvH4Zc

The junior of the two has developed brilliantly since he joining Barcelona from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2014, though the Blaugrana's current defence is not regarded as elite.

Of La Liga's current top six teams, only Real Sociedad (23) have conceded more goals than Barcelona's 21 this season.

Ter Stegen has earned widespread plaudits for his generally reliable displays between Ernesto Valverde's posts, though he's also been guilty of embarrassing moments:

OptaJose @OptaJose

3 - Marc-André ter Stegen has made more errors leading to goals than any other player in LaLiga this season (three). Strange. #ElClasico https://t.co/4T6AsTU2k1

Neither Neuer nor Bayern as a whole have been at their best in the Bundesliga this term, either. Die Roten have conceded an uncharacteristic 22 goals in only 17 games and sit third in the table.

The stalwart started in seven of Germany's eight UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers, with Joachim Low seemingly still loyal to the stopper who played such an important role in Germany's 2014 FIFA World Cup triumph.

There have been signs of a decline in recent years, however. German football writer Mark Lovell highlighted the fact Ryan Sessegnon managed to beat the Bayern star at his near post when Tottenham Hotspur lost 3-1 in Bavaria during the UEFA Champions League group stage in December:

Mark Lovell @LovellLowdown

Paging Ter Stegen fans. Sweet finish by Sessegnon *but Neuer beaten at near post. 1-1

Neuer hopes to retain his No. 1 status ahead of Euro 2020 next summer—possibly his last major international tournament—but holds no grudges against his clearest competition for the starting job.

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