Marc-Andre ter Stegen reacts during the La Liga Santander match between Elche CF and FC Barcelona at Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero, March 2022.

An incredible XI left out of Ter Stegen’s best team-mates XI: Messi & Neymar…

Barcelona and Germany goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen has been blessed by some incredible team-mates during his career.

During an interview, Ter Stegen named his ultimate Xl of: Janis Blaswich; Dani Alves, Antonio Rudiger, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Frenkie de Jong; Marco Reus, Mario Gotze.

This got us thinking of the best XI of players he excluded, and we compiled a side in a slightly more conventional 4-4-3 formation.

GK: Manuel Neuer

Admittedly, Ter Stegen has never actually played alongside another goalkeeper due to the rule that teams can only play one at a time…

But he has often been part of Germany squads alongside Neuer, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time.

Ter Stegen has had to play second fiddle to the 36-year-old for all of his international career and has won just 30 caps for his country.

RB: Joshua Kimmich

Ter Stegen never got to share a pitch with Phillip Lahm but has played alongside the man who was regarded as Lahm’s successor.

Kimmich started off as a right-back and was named in UEFA’s Team of the Tournament at Euro 2016, but he has since been converted into a defensive midfielder.

The Germany international is still able to play in a back four and is definitely a better choice than Nelson Semedo or Aleix Vidal…

CB: Mats Hummels

Once regarded as one of the best centre-backs in the world, Hummels just about edged out Shkodran Mustafi and Marc Bartra to take the first centre-back spot in our line-up.

He’s enjoyed a brilliant career with Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga and also made 76 appearances for Germany, including six in their 2014 World Cup-winning campaign.

CB: Jerome Boateng

Admittedly, it’s hard not to think about that Lionel Messi goal when you talk about Boateng. But he shouldn’t be defined by that moment as many great players have been humiliated by Messi over the years.

The centre-back partnered Hummels at the 2014 World Cup and was widely regarded as the best player on the pitch during the final. He also played a starring role in Bayern’s 2012-13 and 2019-20 trebles.

LB: Filip Daems

Undoubtedly the least well-known player in our line-up, Daems played alongside Ter Stegen at Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach.

The defender, who made over 200 appearances for Gladbach, became club captain before Ter Stegen’s senior debut and the duo helped Lucien Favre’s side finish fourth in 2011-12.

CDM: Javier Mascherano

Having played behind that iconic trio of Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta during the 2014-15 season, Ter Stegen unsurprisingly selected those three for his midfield. But our line-up still has a plethora of good midfielders to choose from. 

Mascherano is our pick for the defensive midfield role as every team needs to contain a player who would literally put their body on the line.

Argentina's Javier Mascherano reacting during Netherlands v Argentina, in Arena de Sao Paulo Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on July 9, 2014.

READ: An ode to Mascherano – so devoted he tore his ars*hole for Argentina

CM: Toni Kroos

While Kroos and Ter Stegen are on opposing sides of the Real Madrid and Barcelona rivalry, they did play together for Germany on 10 occasions.

Kroos has established himself as one of the best midfielders in the world and produced a lot of great performances for Germany before his international retirement in 2021.

The 32-year-old has also waxed lyrical about Ter Stegen, telling AS in 2018 that: “I like Ter Stegen a lot. Marc is one of the best in the world and without doubt, he is the perfect keeper for Barcelona.

“The best thing about Ter Stegen is that he makes very few mistakes. He’s perfect for Barca because he starts moves from the back and there aren’t many keepers who can do that.”

CM: Pedri

There were a host of candidates for the final midfield spot; Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitic, Leon Goretzka and Ilkay Gundogan to name just a few.

But we couldn’t ignore the merits of Pedri. Yes, he’s still at the start of his career but nobody can deny that the 20-year-old is a very special talent. 

“It is remarkable that these kids are already playing at a top-level at their age,” Ter Stegen told SPORT1 in 2021. “Pedri has been playing almost every game for weeks. It’s crazy for a young guy like that. The boys have more energy than us older players.”

RW: Lionel Messi

Despite being widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, Messi somehow misses out on a spot in Ter Stegen’s XI.

During the goalkeeper’s first seven seasons at Camp Nou, Messi helped Barcelona win 14 trophies and scored a staggering 318 goals in 353 appearances in all competitions.

But the duo reportedly had a fractured relationship and that may explain why the Argentina international has to settle for a place in our team.

“Leo, it’s been a pleasure to play alongside you for all these years, sharing many happy times together in the form of moments and titles,” Ter Stegen posted on Instagram after Messi left Barcelona in 2021. 

“While we didn’t always agree on everything, we both wanted what was best for the team and managed to grow as individuals, regardless of the result. Thanks for that!

“You made history with the club of your life, and you’ll go down in history as a true legend of football. Something that no other player will ever get close to. You changed football.”

ST: Luiz Suarez

After producing one of the great individual Premier League seasons at Liverpool, Suarez joined Barcelona a few weeks after Ter Stegen’s arrival in the summer of 2014.

The Uruguay international then took his game up another level, scoring 198 goals over the following six seasons to become the club’s third-highest goalscorer of all time.

Since joining Atletico Madrid in 2020, he made three appearances against Barcelona and scored two goals past Ter Stegen.

LW: Neymar

After Ter Stegen left Messi and Suarez out of his team, it makes sense to include the final part of the MSN front three in our line-up here.

Neymar managed to justify the hype that surrounded him and scored more than 100 goals in four seasons at Barcelona, including the clincher in the 2015 Champions League final.

“The quality of Ney, you can’t explain it,” Ter Stegen told ESPN after Neymar’s move to PSG in 2017. “Because he was super important for us, as a person [and] in the team, as a footballer.”

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