The rumored exits of iconic Barcelona players signal a desire for a renewal in Catalonia. Amongst the exits are the definite departures of goalkeepers Victor Valdes and Jose Manuel Pinto. And their replacements? The 22-year-old German, Marc-André ter Stegen, who has already been signed, and the latest rumors have 31-year-old Claudio Bravo moving to Barcelona for €12 million. While the Chilean captain is a fantastic goalkeeper, €12 million is a high price to pay for someone meant to only play the Copa del Rey tournament.
Make no mistake about it, Bravo is a great goalkeeper. He’s played at a consistent level at Real Sociedad for over eight years now, and has become one of Chile’s highest capped players. England coach Roy Hodgson has been on record saying Bravo has the “…best demonstration of footwork and passing ever seen from a keeper.” His pinpoint accuracy with his feet would fit in perfectly with the pass-heavy, possession style soccer that Barcelona plays. In that sense, the transfer is a no-brainer for both parties.
Of course, Bravo can also make spectacular saves when he’s called to do so. He’s become a hero for both club and country showing off fantastic reflexes and a keen sense of where to be positioned. In Chile’s two World Cup games, he’s saved Chile on multiple occasions. For Real Sociedad, he was one of the few high-points in an otherwise forgettable Champion’s League run.
That said, not everything about the almost-certain transfer is to dream about. There’s no reason to beat around the bush. If Bravo goes to Barcelona, it’s to be the second choice goalkeeper. At 31, he’s an aging player that simply isn’t as good as ter Stegen. He’ll be used for friendlies, Copa del Rey matches, and not much else. Is the €12 million fee worth a couple of games spread throughout the season? Barcelona is a team that needs to spend money on the areas that it lacks quality in, like its terrible defense.
As good as Bravo is, one can’t help but feel that Barcelona could save those €12 million on the 31-year-old and promote a young goalkeeper from La Macia in order to play those couple of matches where ter Stegen won’t be available. After all, Barcelona is known for having an excellent youth system, where famous goalkeepers like Victor Valdes and Pepe Reina have come out from.