Manuel Neuer is currently in possession of the Germany number 1 jersey, and is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers not just in Germany, but the world.
That being said, however, he may well face some competition soon in the form of two 19-year-olds by the names of Bernd Leno and Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
The two goalkeepers have seen their stock rise remarkably this season, and are firmly established as first choice goalkeepers for their respective sides, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Leno came through the ranks at Stuttgart, for whose reserve side he made over 50 appearances.
Ter Stegen, meanwhile, was rather remarkably signed by Die Fohlen at the tender age of four. Since then, he rose steadily through the ranks and established himself in the reserves and often back-up to first choice ‘keeper, Logan Bailly.
Leno found himself unable to break into the Stuttgart first team, but did sign a contract extension in May, which was to keep him at the club until 2014, perhaps a sign of how highly he was rated.
Similarly, ter Stegen found his path to the first team blocked, even when many fans believed he should have been the man between the posts, as opposed to Bailly. His fortunes, much like the club’s, would turn around with the appointment of Lucien Favre.
Leno, not long after signing the aforementioned extension, joined Leverkusen on loan as a replacement for the injured Rene Adler. Since then, he has become the youngest German goalkeeper to appear in the Champions League; and his short-term loan deal has been turned into a permanent one that runs until 2017. Such is his rival’s form, Adler has announced he is to leave Leverkusen when his contract expires.
Ter Stegen finally got his chance towards the end of the 2010/11 season, and ended up playing a part in their avoiding relegation. Since then, he’s been handed the number one jersey (literally and figuratively), while Bailly has been sent out on loan. Mönchengladbach boast the second best defence in the league, and that is in no small part down to ter Stegen.
If it weren’t for Neuer, at least one of them would probably have German caps to their name by now. As it stands, it surely won’t be long before they both do. They may have to wait a while for a chance, Neuer himself is only 25, but it’s a chance that will undoubtedly come. And it’ll be interesting to see which one of them takes it.
“Apart from Gotze, [the most exciting youngster in Germany] is probably Bernd Leno.” – Raphael Honigstein, German football correspondent for The Guardian. @Honigstein.
“Among the many young goalkeepers in Germany, for me, Marc-Andre ter Stegen is the most exciting. He’s incredibly mature for his years.” – Clark Whitney, goal.com German editor. @Mr_Bundesliga.
Who is the better of the two is difficult to say, but you can have your say in the poll below.