Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen could miss two months of action if the decision is made for him to undergo surgery to treat a troublesome back injury.
Ter Stegen has been forced to miss Barca’s last three games across La Liga and the Champions League, as well as Germany’s two fixtures during last month’s international break.
Xavi has called on Inaki Pena to fill in as starter, with Aron Yaakobishvili and Diego Kochen each included in matchday squads in recent weeks to plug gaps alongside interim second choice Ander Astralaga, who had already been on the first-team bench all season as third choice.
The Athletic has reported that surgery is currently being considered as one of the options, although there is no guarantee that it fixes the problem. It would, however, rule Ter Stegen out of action for the next couple of months until early February regardless of its success.
During that time, Barcelona have eight La Liga games, as well as three rounds of the Copa del Rey. The Champions League group stage concludes with a dead rubber against competition minnows Antwerp next week, but the first knockout round begins in mid-to-late February depending on the draw, which could leave Ter Stegen in a race against time to be fit if surgery is chosen.
As it stands, Ter Stegen has been assessed on a week by week basis to see if his pain and discomfort has subsided just from resting. So far, that hasn’t been enough. Xavi remarked prior to the important win over Atletico Madrid on Saturday that his goalkeeper was “still in pain” and that the plan for upcoming Catalan derby against surprise package Girona on Sunday is to wait and see again.
Of course, the longer that Ter Stegen’s recovery is considered a week to week thing, the longer his absence could ultimately be if the decision further down the line is still to undergo surgery after all.