Manuel Neuer’s steady downfall is highlighting the end of his legacy in between the sticks despite the best efforts from the Bayern Munich board.
Once the darling of goalkeepers in the world of football, Manuel Neuer has experienced a turbulent few years for both club and country. The frequent injuries, coupled with an evident downfall in terms of performances, have seen the German being touted by many as merely a second-choice goalkeeper for the national team.
And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will discuss several factors of Neuer’s current situation and whether or not this is finally the end of his legacy in between the sticks.
Neuer’s struggles post Euro 2016
Neuer was hands down the best and the most in-form goalkeeper in world football up until Germany’s debacle in European Championship 2016. While he actually did quite well in the coveted tournament, it was his performances and misfortune afterwards that was perhaps the beginning of the end of his legacy.
Although the’keeper managed to retain 14 clean sheets during the 2016-17 campaign, it was nowhere near his tally of 21 from the season before.
Additionally, Neuer suffered a metatarsal fracture towards the end of the campaign that kept him on the sidelines for over three months. He returned in August but aggravated that injury in September, meaning he was out for almost a year before returning in 2018.
It allowed Sven Ulreich to play a more prominent role for Bayern and his impressive performances somewhat shadowed the importance of Neuer. The 33-year-old returned to action last season and managed 11 clean sheets in 26 matches. However, some of his performances were questionable even as Bayern somehow lifted the Bundesliga title.
And in this new season, Neuer has barely performed like his older self, failing to prevent a lot of goals throughout these early parts of the campaign. As a matter of fact, the ex-Schalke star has kept only two clean sheets in eight matches. It is a rather sad reading for a player who revolutionised the standard of modern goalkeeping.
The emergence of ter Stegen
Marc-Andre ter Stegen was always a consistent performer ever since his breakout at Borussia Monchengladbach. He moved to Barcelona in 2014 and has now become one of the best goalkeepers in world football. He has already notched up over 200 competitive appearances for the Catalan outfit. But, he has been often overlooked in the German national team due to the presence of Neuer.
That has changed in recent times as experts and fans now consider ter Stegen the best option to become Germany’s first-choice in the upcoming Euro. Not to mention, ter Stegen is arguably having his best season, having already made 24 saves in all competitions. His performance against Borussia Dortmund, in particular, saved Barcelona from enduring a humiliating defeat at the Signal Iduna Park.
The Bayern board, however, has been doing their best to glorify Neuer, with Uli Hoeness making strong claims against ter Stegen after the Barcelona goalkeeper went public with his disappointment over not being chosen ahead of Neuer in the national team.
But at the same time, it’s fair to point out that ter Stegen does actually deserve to become Germany’s number one goalkeeper given his performances in recent months. He is technically adept with his feet and is blessed with quick reflexes that could help Die Mannschaft concede fewer goals at the European Championships next year.
Bayern’s interest in Alexander Nubel
While Bayern Munich deserve a lot of admiration for backing their players, their reported interest in Alexander Nubel clearly signals the end of Neuer’s legacy. The Schalke star is currently regarded as one of the best young goalkeepers in world football, having made his professional breakthrough at the start of this year.
He has been a regular with Germany’s Under-21 side and was even appointed Schalke’s club captain at the age of just 23. Nubel’s performances between the sticks have helped the Royal Blues become one of the most resilient teams in the Bundesliga. As a result, the youngster is already being compared to Neuer.
Bayern will likely target Nubel as a long-term successor for their current number one and that makes a lot of sense given his recent performances. It seems the club itself is pretty aware that Neuer’s influence between the sticks is slowly ebbing away and it is only a matter of time until someone else takes over.