On the day before the “escape clause” of Timo Horn’s contract was set to expire, 1. FC Union Berlin’s announcement of the acquisition of a goalkeeper from 1. FC Köln might have caused some shock for those only half-listening. However, it was not the perpetually rumored-to-be-leaving Horn who made a move to join a higher-profile club, rather third-choice keeper Daniel Mesenhöler leaving to potentially see some playing time as a professional.
Considering the increasing likelihood that Horn will again be the FC’s number one for the 2016-17 season and the extension of veteran back-up Thomas Kessler, the Germany U21 keeper knew that any chance of playing at a level higher than the Regionalliga this season was going to involve a move away from his long-time football home. Having landed at second-division Union Berlin, Mesenhöler will necesssarily move into a second-division outfit, but will still have to fight for playing time.
Danish U-21 keeper Jakob Busk, who arrived at Union from FC Copenhagen at the winter break, played well enough to earn a contract extension into 2020 and is presumably the starter. Mesenhöler, for his part, doesn’t mind competing for playing time.
“I look forward to the challenge at Union Berlin and would like to assert myself here,” said Mesenhöler about the move. “In recent years, Union has shown that it offers a familial environment in which young players can develop themselves in outstanding fashion. I want to take on the sporting competition with Jakob Busk and give everything to achieve my goals with the team.”
Mesenhöler’s new deal goes only into 2018, meaning whatever the result of Union having two very young keepers on the roster, it is likely to be a short-term situation before a long-term decision is made on which player remains in Berlin and which one is sold along to the next club in need of a goalkeeping prospect.
“We know that the constellation of two very young goalkeepers for the coming season is unusual, but we are completely convinced of the quality of the guys,” said Union football director Helmut Schulte. “The competition will promote even further development of both of them.”
Busk surrendered just 19 goals in 14 appearances for Union in the Rückrunde of the season just ended, while Mesenhöler allowed 34 goals in 25 matches. Mesenhöler’s willingness to take on the challenge of competing with Busk likely was among the things that make Union interested in the 20-year-old with international experience.
“Danile is a young, ambitious keeper who’d like to take the next step with us,” said Schulte. “Just the acquisition of a U-national player is, for us, naturally positive, and we are happy that Daniel decided on a transfer to Union.”
Because his contract with the FC was set to expire this summer, Mesenhöler’s move bring no transfer fee in return.
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