By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Writer
Barcelona still hope to sign both Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Pepe Reina in the summer, as first-choice goalkeeper Victor Valdes prepares to leave Camp Nou after 12 successful seasons.
Valdes, who is currently sidelined for six weeks after suffering an injury on international duty with Spain this week, announced earlier this year that he would be departing when his contract expires at the end of the current campaign.
At one point, Barca believed Valdes was keen to move on last summer and the Catalan club made moves to bring in both Ter Stegen and Reina before the start of the 2013-14 season.
However, once they established that their Spain shot-stopper was keen to stay for one more year, both of those deals were placed on hold, with second-choice keeper Jose Pinto considered an able deputy.
The 21-year-old German (valued at around €10 million) has been identified as a long-term successor to Valdes, but has been offered a new and improved contract by Borussia Monchengladbach and may decide to continue his development in the Bundesliga before moving to such a big club.
Reina, meanwhile, began his career at Barca and knows exactly what is required from a goalkeeper at Camp Nou. Strong with his feet and with remarkable reflexes, the 31-year-old is the same age as Valdes but would be able to slot seamlessly into the role of his international team-mate. He is also the choice of many the Barca players, having formed firm friendships with the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Xavi, Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique both in his time at the Catalan club and with Spain. Pepe would cost Barca €5.9m.
If both Reina and Ter Stegen arrive in the summer, the two men will compete for the starting spot, but the Catalan is seen as a player who can steady the ship with his experience and knowledge of the club before handing over the reins to the German in future.
Sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta, a success between the sticks for Barca between 1986 and 1994, is well aware of the pressure on goalkeepers at Camp Nou and is wary of thrusting an inexperienced youngster from another league into what is renowned as very much a problem position at the Catalan club.
Barca are also interested in Manchester United's David De Gea and Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois (on loan at Atletico Madrid), but believe the Spaniard is likely to be out of reach and hold little hope of persuading old foe Jose Mourinho to part with the talented Belgian. Valencia's Vicente Guaita and Diego Alves have also been considered, along with Espanyol's Kiko Casilla.
Earlier this week, Barca vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu claimed the Catalans would sign just one goalkeeper in the summer (to be announced in January), but Zubizarreta revealed that two shot-stoppers could yet arrive as Valdes heads off into the sunset following what has been his best-ever season since he made his debut for the Blaugrana in 2002-03.
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