After weeks of ongoing speculation, Barcelona signed Jasper Cillessen, the Dutch National team goalkeeper who guided his country to the semi finals of the 2014 World Cup, for the next five years. Although Diego Alves of Valencia was also tipped to be signed, the Catalans made the right choice.
"I think the coach decides who plays, so all I can do is make it as hard as possible"
Cillessen's determination to push Ter Stegen for the starting goalkeeping spot with ter Stegen, as the Chilean Claudio Bravo departs for Manchester City, is certainly great news for the Blaugranas.
Having lived in Amsterdam for many years, I have been lucky to see Cillessen develop into a world-class goalkeeper. Here are five reasons why the Dutch international will succeed at the Camp Nou:
1) Used to the Barca system
Dutch and tall, bred in Nijmegen and spending his last 5 years in Amsterdam, Jasper, like most Dutch footballers coming through Ajax, is quite aware and adept of the Barçajax model, one of positional play and building from the back.
The 27 year old is used to seeing split centre backs and being asked not to just hoof the ball about. A goalkeeper skilled with his feet, Jasper is perfect for Barça, perhaps even better than Ter Stegen. The memorable Cruyff turn that fooled Gonzalo Higuain in the World Cup semi final shows his confidence and skill with the ball at his feet.
2) Confident passer
For an Ajax not as great as before (which is a sad state to be frank) he keeps a much better passing percentage than Bravo ever did before coming to Barcelona. On average, almost 20% more to Bravo’s 57% (pre Barça). This will only improve at the Camp Nou, with teammates of a much higher quality and a team that always has more possession than the opposition.
3) Relentless ambition
The fact he is not yet a regular starter, but eagerly wants to compete for the spot, will spur Ter Stegen to become an even better keeper than he already is, thus removing complacency.
Bravo, when he arrived at the Camp Nou, was a really good keeper, but nowhere near his current level. After two years at Barça, and with two Copa America victories already in his pocket, the Chilean is deservedly in the top echelon of present day goalkeepers. Cillessen can only try to emulate the same.
Also, Cillessen knows he has been signed as a backup, and must compete for the spot. This removes the start away complications that arose with having two world class goalkeepers Bravo and Stegen, leaving both unsatisfied.
4) A patient competitor
The Dutch international fits the requirement Barça were looking for. Not likely to voice his eventual discontent in front of the world's media, the former Ajax star understands his current position, behind Ter Stegen, and is keen to fight for any minutes he may eventually get.
5) Effective in the air
Cillessen is a good shot stopper, and has fantastic reflexes. Given his stature, he has an advantage when dealing with high balls.
Cillessen's transfer is perfect in solving the goalkeeping complications that arose at Barca. Also, keeping in mind that quality in the goalkeeping department didn’t drop too much and the club made a €5 million profit, the deal was great news for Cules.