Both goalkeepers are regarded as world-class but the former Turkey international feels that the current captain could be the better choice
Former Bayern Munich man Hamit Altintop has labelled the ongoing debate over who should start in goal for Germany as a ‘luxury problem’ as Marc-Andre ter Stegen continues to stake his claim to be the country’s number one shot-stopper.
Ter Stegen’s glittering performances in a Barcelona shirt have seen his stock rise in recent years and he is now widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
The 27-year-old deputised more than ably during Neuer’s long injury lay-off, too, leading many to believe that the younger of the two should have retained his spot between the sticks – Ter Stegen himself included – when the Germany captain returned.
It was a ‘tough blow’ for Ter Stegen when his compatriot slipped straight back into the starting XI and his comments regarding the situation sparked heated debate from some of the country’s more well known figures.
Altintop, however, sees the competition between the pair as a positive.
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“It’s a nice problem for Germany to have when you have goalkeepers at that level,” Altintop told Goal at Leaders Week London. “It’s a nice problem – a luxury even. Manuel Neuer is maybe the better goalkeeper but the second choice is very good too.
“It’s good if there’s a positive fight for the shirt but we must respect what Joachim Low says, he’s the manager. We have to respect his choices but the media likes to play with [the situation]. They like debate and controversy.
“I think the atmosphere in the team between the two goalkeepers is good.”
Altintop spent four years at Neuer’s current club, winning a host of honours alongside some of Bayern’s modern day icons such as Franck Ribery.
And while the former prepares to take on a youth development role with the Turkish Football Federation, 36-year-old Ribery has already begun a new chapter of his own after joining Fiorentina.
“He’s always surprising,” Altintop said of a man in the final years of his career. “I played for four years with him and he’s a street footballer. He loves it, his passion for football is unbelievable. He has had difficult times but his love for the business of football was always intense.
“He’s more responsible now. He understands that he’s 36 and has to show a good example to the younger players around him. That’s a positive thing for him after changing teams. It’s a good motivation.
“The mentality in Italy might be slower and allow him to enjoy life but it won’t stop him working hard. He’s made some mistakes but he’s human, we all have. He has always played well and worked hard. We have to respect his career – he’s a legend.”
Another former Bundesliga man facing a different situation altogether is Mesut Ozil, who is barely being used by Arsenal boss Unai Emery despite the playmaker’s obvious talent and sizeable wage.
Ozil has a plethora of Turkish fans due to his roots and Altintop is keen to see the World Cup winner return to action sooner rather than later.
“Mesut is a good guy who has had an unbelievable career,” he said.
“He is always respectful and serious and that’s the base for a good sportsman. He’s a young man and he’s allowed to make mistakes. That’s important.
“His current situation at Arsenal is not good but this is part of life and his career. He worked hard for 10 years for his passion so I think he will come back.”