Andrew Gibney picks out the most promising shot-stoppers who should be on the radars of Premier League clubs...
Tottenham's Hugo Lloris is arguably the best goalkeeper in the Premier League; Manchester United's David de Gea has impressed for much of the season; David Ospina has forced his way past Wojciech Szczesny at Arsenal; Thibaut Courtois is already decorated with La Liga and Europa League titles, and now well on his way to the English equivalent at Chelsea. Sensing a pattern? With only a handful of current first-choice Premier League goalkeepers hailing from Britain, it's clear that scouts are constantly scouring mainland Europe for new talent. Here are five who could become stars in England's top flight...
Anthony Lopes (24, Lyon)
Alexandre Lacazette has received most of the attention for Lyon’s run to the top of Ligue 1, but look beyond his goal record and you will see that Les Gones are far from a one-man team.
Behind every team’s great success is a fine goalkeeper, and Lyon are no different. Lopes has kept 12 clean sheets in Ligue 1 this season, and before Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s twice-taken penalty on matchday 24, the Portuguese goalkeeper had gone six league games without conceding.
When Lloris was sold to Tottenham Hotspur, the Lyon management didn’t panic over signing a replacement because of the faith they had in Lopes. He made his league debut at 22, and four months later the youngster was first choice at the Stade de Gerland.
It’s not just his superb reflexes and shot-stopping that have made him indispensable, but a vital knack of making huge saves when Lyon need them most. Keeping the opposition out when games have been close has helped Lyon push in front of Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain.
Already a star for Portugal at under-21 level, Lopes is close to making his full international debut. Neither club nor country need to worry about the player's long-term abilities, although it won’t be long until Lyon have to fend off suitors.
Mattia Perin (22, Genoa)
Whisper it quietly but someday, someone will have to replace Gianluigi Buffon for both Juventus and Italy.
Perin is one goalkeeper who is gradually improving each season and making a claim to succeed the Azzurri legend between the sticks.
The 22-year-old has started every game for Genoa this season, and his ability to stand tall and stop shots, combined with an authority to come and claim balls rather than punch them clear, helps the 6ft 2in long-haired keeper stand out from the crowd.
He is slowly but surely eliminating errors from his game and, with his big frame and superb reflexes, is the obvious heir to Buffon’s throne.