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 BSC, that’s for sure, it won’t be
Ortega, whose contract with the relegated team from the Bundesliga expires, has been treated as a possible entry by many clubs in recent weeks, most recently by Hertha BSC. And at Hertha, many goalkeepers have been traded as possible additions, not just Ortega.
That’s because the situation in the goalkeeper position at the Berliners seems a bit opaque – especially after Alexander Schwolow was loaned to Schalke 04 for a year. 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, when introducing the new head coach Sandro Schwarz. “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.
“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 do that, 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.
Hertha’s goalkeepers contributed a particularly big chapter to the 2021/22 season, which was not lacking in trials and tribulations. Three goalkeepers were used – including relegation. “That suited the season,” says Bobic.
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.
“The young Dane”, as coach Felix Magath once called him 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 was still defeated by an unfortunate cross from Hamburg’s Ludovit Reis – 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 exuded great inner peace in this all-or-nothing game. With this quality, you are definitely not at the wrong place at Hertha BSC.