To appreciate the importance of a great goalkeeper, you need look no further than summer 2018’s transfer business in the Premier League. The world record fee for a shot-stopper was set not once but twice, firstly by Liverpool for Alisson and then by Chelsea with their £72m swoop for Kepa Arrizabalaga.
It's often said that having a reliable man between the sticks will win you several points every season, and this collection certainly fall into that category...
15. Jordan Pickford (Everton)
Scoring and saving penalties in England’s Nations League third-place play-off shootout victory over Switzerland strengthened Pickford’s popular status among Three Lions followers after an impressive showing at the World Cup in summer 2018.
The Everton stopper has grown into an accomplished international keeper whose superb distribution headlines a mixed skillset. There are still issues to iron out and this season isn't going well so far, but Pickford’s return of 14 clean sheets in 38 Premier League games over 2018/19 was bettered only by Alisson and Ederson.
14. Andre Onana (Ajax)
Ajax’s surge to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2018/19 brought several members of their talented squad to the attention of Europe’s elite, not least Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt (now of Barcelona and Juventus respectively).
Onana’s contribution shouldn’t be overlooked though, as the Cameroon international put in some stunning displays at home and abroad for the Eredivisie club. At the age of just 23, there's a sense that the best is yet to come from the goalkeeper as he looks to add to his impressive highlight reel of flying saves.
13. Rui Patricio (Wolves)
Wolves pulled off a major transfer coup in summer 2018, using their powerful connections to land Portugal’s top goalkeeper. The 31-year-old is vastly experienced, with 80 international caps to his name, as well as a trophy cabinet that includes a Euro 2016 winner's medal and two Portuguese Cups.
Patricio has used that experience to his advantage during his time in England so far, helping his new club to a brilliant seventh-place finish on their return to the Premier League. He missed just one league game all season and keeping eight clean sheets.
12. Keylor Navas (PSG)
It was unfair that Navas spent most of the 2018/19 season behind Thibaut Courtois at Real Madrid, having been predictably demoted in the summer following his Belgian rival's signing.
It had long been coming: Florentino Perez seemed determined to upgrade a net-minder who'd won three consecutive Champions League titles with Los Blancos, having been deterred by former manager Zinedine Zidane and a powerful dressing room cabal who liked the Costa Rican.
But even with Zidane back at the helm, his days were numbered: after making just 10 league appearances last season, Navas joined PSG.
11. Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan)
Donnarumma has featured heavily in the gossip columns ever since breaking into Milan's first team at the age of just 17. However, some high-profile gaffes and an ugly contract stand-off with the club saw his star wane somewhat, at least until the Italian produced his most consistent season to date in 2018/19.
Now 20, the 6ft 4in stopper has already racked up 164 first-team appearances for the Rossoneri and thrived under Gennaro Gattuso’s bullish leadership. Unfortunately for the youngster, Gattuso has since left the club and he faces another year without a Champions League stage to shine on.
10. Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea)
Before summer 2018, Kepa wasn’t known by many fans outside of Spain. Since then, the 25-year-old has made his way into the history books by becoming the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, following his £71.6m move to Chelsea from Athletic Bilbao.
The Spaniard adjusted well to life in England, missing just two Premier League appearances all season for Maurizio Sarri’s side and keeping 14 clean sheets. He did, however, refuse to be substituted ahead of the Carabao Cup final penalty shoot-out against Manchester City, which didn’t exactly make him universally popular. Chelsea lost 4-3, although to his credit, Kepa did at least save one.
9. Samir Handanovic (Inter)
For the best part of a decade, Handanovic had spent his Serie A career in the shadow of Gianluigi Buffon. Frankly, though, he was quite happy to stay there; unfussily getting on with his job and demonstrating the quiet consistency that has earned him so many admirers in Italy.
The Inter shot-stopper has been ever-reliable while those around him haven’t, and aged 35, has somehow seemed to get better with each season. The Slovenian is proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks, too: under Luciano Spalletti, Inter’s more patient build-up play forced Handanovic to adjust his game accordingly.
He retired from international duty in 2015 to wave through Atletico Madrid’s brilliant Jan Oblak, but remains essential to his club side and has a contract at San Siro through to 2021 that will see him lead the club into the Antonio Conte era.
8. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
His kicking will always be a stick to beat him with, but Tottenham fans are glad they have Hugo Lloris between the sticks more often than not.
The Frenchman’s ability to pull off breathtaking saves is among the best in the Premier League, and he remains a huge asset to his manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Lloris still has his moments, as he proved against Brighton most recently, but the Bleus skipper was magnificent through that tournament and followed that up by leading Spurs to their first ever Champions League final.
7. Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)
The biggest compliment you can pay to Courtois is that he doesn’t stand out, and nor does he try to. His excellence comes in his incredible consistency: minute after minute, game after game, month on month.
However, his first season at Real Madrid was a difficult one to say the least, and Courtois was even dropped for Keylor Navas for a few games after Zinedine Zidane returned to the Bernabeu bench. The 27-year-old is capable of much better than he has displayed in Spain so far and will be determined to show that this season.
6. Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)
Neuer could soon climb his way back to the top of this list, but the last two seasons have been plagued by injury and he endured a horrific World Cup upon his comeback. Germany were knocked out in the group stage, losing 2-0 to South Korea after Neuer ventured upfield chasing an unlikely leveller, but succeeded only in giving away possession for the killer strike.
He was back in a Bayern shirt last season, though – and skippered the Bavarians to the Bundesliga title. Frustratingly, he ended the campaign back on the treatment table.
5. Ederson (Manchester City)
It’s difficult to remember a goalkeeper emerging quite as impressively as Ederson. The year 2017 was a breakthrough one for the Brazilian net-minder, who earned a €40m move to Manchester City that summer and became the second-most expensive goalkeeper in history.
That came after a phenomenal 2016/17 season at Benfica in which he registered 17 clean sheets – 10 in 2017 – and proved to Pep Guardiola that he was the man to replace Claudio Bravo as a dependable sweeper-keeper.
The Catalan was proved right: Ederson was magnificent as City romped to the Premier League title, keeping 17 clean sheets en route, before racking up 20 as his team did it again in 2018/19.
4. Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)
Ter Stegen’s early career was characterised by some high-profile blunders, but he has now become one of Europe’s most consistent goalkeepers at Barcelona. The former Borussia Monchengladbach keeper combines nimble footwork with fine shot-stopping on a weekly basis, and was among Barça’s better players as they claimed back-to-back La Liga titles.
Remember, too, that Ter Stegen is still only 27 – and thus has his best years ahead of him. He’ll be ready and waiting for Germany when Neuer hangs up his gloves.
3. Alisson (Liverpool)
The Brazilian is so good that he keeps out Ederson for his national team. Alisson originally earned widespread praise in 2017/18 as Roma reached the Champions League semi-finals, before proving to be one of the final pieces in Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool jigsaw.
Alisson moved to Anfield for a (then) world record £67 million, helping Klopp’s side go all the way by clinching the Champions League trophy with a 2-0 win over Tottenham in Madrid. After Loris Karius’s antics in the previous year’s final against Real Madrid, the Reds faithful are mightily thankful to have a top-class No.1.
2. David de Gea (Manchester United)
There are plenty who still believe De Gea to be the best goalkeeper in the world. During a half-decade of flux at Old Trafford, he has been Manchester United's only constant: an outstanding performer no matter who he plays with or what changes around him at Manchester United.
His three-season dominance of United’s Player of the Season award was only broken in 2016/17 by Ander Herrera, but he reclaimed the prize in 2017/18. De Gea has been named in the PFA Team of the Season for five of the last six seasons, and scooped Match of the Day’s Save of the Season the same number of times since 2013.
He combines the two traits few goalkeepers ever get to boast at the time same: the capability of making gravity-defying saves, and - until the end of 2018/19 at least – consistency that almost eradicates mistakes from his game. Almost.
1. Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)
The Slovenian has it all aged only 26: strong command of his penalty area, expert positioning, brilliant shot-stopping ability and all of it with unerring consistency. His 100th clean sheet for Atletico Madrid came in just his 178th appearance, and he has won La Liga's Zamora trophy – awarded to the La Liga goalkeeper with the best goals-to-games ratio in a season – for the last four campaigns.
Oblak is arguably the best goalkeeper in the world right now – and might just stay there for a very long time.
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