Stefan Ortega has made his decision. The Arminia Bielefeld goalkeeper now knows which club he will play for next season. He just hasn’t announced his decision yet. Hertha BSCthat much is certain, it will not be
Ortega, whose contract with the relegated team from the Bundesliga expires, has been traded in the past few weeks as a possible access at many clubs, most recently at Hertha BSC. And at Hertha, many goalkeepers have been traded as possible additions, not just Ortega.
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That’s because the situation in the goalkeeper position with the Berliners seems a bit opaque – especially after Alexander Schwolow on loan to Schalke 04 for a year has been. Is Hertha still looking for a new number one? Or is the focus more on an ambitious substitute? And what will happen to Rune Jarstein, who has not been able to play for more than a year due to health reasons.
The reality may not be as complicated as it might seem in these weeks of steady transfer rumours. “We can say that quite openly: We already see Oliver Christensen as one of the favorites, that he is number one,” said Fredi Bobic, the sports director of the Berlin Bundesliga club the presentation of the new head coach Sandro Schwarz said. “We all have a very good feeling about that.” The statement that Hertha was looking for a new number one was not made by him, Bobic explained, and it will not be there either.
Two talents in the hindquarters
Also behind Christensen, 23, Bobic Hertha sees well positioned. With Tjark Ernst, 19, signed by VfL Bochum, and 17-year-old Robert Kwasigroch from their own U19s, the Training group goalkeeper two young keepers with prospects again in the new season. And Rune Jarstein will by no means terminate his contract in the next few days, as was recently rumored. The 37-year-old Norwegian is tipped to be an experienced backup for the role of number two behind Christensen. At least until proven otherwise.
“With Rune, the decisive factor will be: is he fit? And can he be someone who gives the young players support?” asks Bobic. “If he can, he is cordially invited.” Jarstein was infected with the corona virus in spring 2021. As a result, he suffered from heart muscle inflammation, followed by a knee injury.
The Norwegian only returned to team training at Hertha at the end of last season. However, he was not a real option after the long break. If it turns out during the preparation that Jarstein can still not be, according to Bobic, Hertha would have to work again on the transfer market.
To the 2021/22 season not poor in trials and tribulations Hertha’s goalkeepers have contributed a particularly thick chapter. Three goalkeepers were used – including relegation. “That suited the season,” says Bobic.
Christensen came in as a potential number one
Just like the story of Marcel Lotka, who started the summer as supposed number five, but then came to the fore with such good performances that he had a realistic chance of becoming Hertha’s new first-choice goalkeeper. But Lotka had already decided to switch to Borussia Dortmund in the autumn, long before his Bundesliga debut.
It may seem daring that Oliver Christensen is now assigned the role as number one. But that’s exactly why Hertha signed him for at least three million euros a year ago. Christensen, who even played once for Denmark’s senior national team, was not brought in as a man for the substitutes’ bench, but as a challenger for Alexander Schwolow.
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“The Young Dane”, like Coach Felix Magath called him once, when he apparently couldn’t remember Christensen’s name, had to wait a long time before he was allowed to show himself. When Christensen could have made his debut in the Bundesliga at the beginning of the year because Schwolow was out due to a corona infection, he was also injured. Ironically, in the relegation against Hamburger SV, under the greatest imaginable pressure, he was used for the first time for Hertha’s professionals.
Christensen had little to do in the first leg, but he still got through an accidental cross from Hamburg’s Ludovit Reis defeated – Hertha lost 0:1. “The goalkeeper didn’t make any mistakes today,” said Magath afterwards. “It wasn’t his fault.” This interpretation was also supported by experts who deal explicitly with goalkeeping. Keeping the crooked ball from Reis would have been the very high goalkeeper school.
In fact, it was the positive impressions from the relegation, especially from the second leg in Hamburg, that strengthened Hertha’s sporting leadership in their assessment of Christensen. “Very neat” Bobic experienced the young goalkeeper, “you saw a lot of him there”. Christensen held what could be held against HSV. Above all, he was beaming in this all-or-nothing game a great inner peace. With this quality, you are definitely not at the wrong place at Hertha BSC.