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Progress & potential return date for Barcelona goalkeeper

After enjoying a record-equalling campaign in 2022/23, Marc-Andre ter Stegen is set to miss a big chunk of the 2023/24 season.

Barcelona’s La Liga triumph last term was built off their sound defence, with Ter Stegen matching the all-time La Liga single-season clean sheet record in Barca’s penultimate game of the campaign against Mallorca.

The German’s 26th shutout equalled Deportivo La Coruna’s Paco Liano record which has stood since 1993/94. Ter Stegen then had the chance to break the record on the final day, but Barca slumped to defeat against Celta Vigo.

And while Barca are once again in contention for the La Liga crown, their defence hasn’t been the cream of the crop. La Blaugrana’s defensive record is just the fourth-best in the division. And now, Xavi Hernandez must contend without having his number one shot-stopper available until the new year.

While the underlying metrics suggest Ter Stegen has been good without being outstanding this season, his absence will undoubtedly be hard felt after the German decided to undergo minor back surgery.

Ter Stegen has missed Barcelona’s last three games after pulling out of the Germany squad for their November internationals.

After opting for surgery to resolve his back pain, the Barca captain is now expected to be out of action for two months. As a result, he faces a race against time to be fit for the start of the Champions League knockouts. Barca progressed into the round of 16 for the first time under Xavi’s tutelage, and Ter Stegen will undoubtedly be desperate to feature in every knockout bout.

Ter Stegen’s backup, Inaki Pena, has started Barcelona‘s last three games and will continue between the sticks in the German international’s absence. It’s understood that the club trusts the Spaniard, and they will not sign an emergency replacement.

Pena has conceded twice in three games, keeping a clean sheet in Barca’s 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid at the weekend where he particularly impressed. He made an outstanding save to deny Memphis Depay late in the game.

The 24-year-old has been capped once by Spain’s Under-21s and has extended his stay in Catalonia until 2026 after recently signing a new contract. Pena beat out Arnau Tenas to number two status behind Ter Stegen, with the latter joining Paris Saint-Germain in the summer.

With Gianluigi Donnarumma suspended for three games and Ter Stegen set for a prolonged period on the sidelines, both goalkeepers will now have the chance to prove their worth between the posts of a European powerhouse.

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