The 10 best goalkeepers on the planet, according to… well, us
What attributes do the best goalkeepers in the world have? The role of goalie ain’t what is used to be, with No.1s required to start moves as well as provide the last line of defence in the modern game.
It’s often said that having a reliable man between the sticks will win you several points every season, and the following players are good examples of just that.
10. Peter Gulasci (RB Leipzig)
The signing of Peter Gulasci, from sister club RB Salzburg in 2015, might have been the smartest piece of business Leipzig ever did. Since joining the side for £2m, the Hungarian has been nothing short of sensational over the six seasons since.
Tall, quick off his line, great in the area and a supreme shot-stopper, Gulasci is arguably the best goalkeeper in Germany. His save percentage of 68% is among the best in the division among keepers who regularly start but, in truth, Leipzig’s league best goals against column (just 25 from 31 matches played) has as much to do with his organisational and communication skills as his stopping ability.
Gulasci signed a new deal with Leipzig this week, keeping him at the club until 2025. Fans will be thrilled to know a player who just turned 31 clearly wants to end his career at the Red Bull Area.
9. Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)
It takes a hell of a lot for Germans to question a player with the experience and quality of Manuel Neuer but, when it comes to ter Stegen, they’ve been left almost with no choice. How can a player be deemed good enough for the Barcelona no.1 jersey yet not be his national team’s goalkeeper?
8. Keylor Navas (PSG)
The Costa Rican has been nothing short of sensational between the sticks for PSG, since joining from Real Madrid in 2019 for just £13m, helping the club to a domestic treble during a COVID-ravaged 19/20 season, as well as the Champions League Final last year.
The 34-year old has kept 14 clean sheets in 24 Ligue 1appearances this season, second only to Lille’s Mike Maignan, and has a pass completion rate of 85%, the third highest in the division. A superb all-rounder, Keylor Navas appears to only be getting better with age.
7. Samir Handanovic (Inter Milan)
Since joining Inter from Udinese nine years ago, the Slovenian has quietly gone about establishing himself as Europe’s top goalkeepers. While he rarely gets the international plaudits he deserves, his consistently assured displays have made him a legend in Milan. The Nerazzurri’s first Scudetto in 11 seasons was bagged thanks, in no small part, to the lowest goals against tally in the division. Handanovic’s calm leadership was key to that success.
Calm, an excellent communicator and superb in the air, the 36-year-old is an old school type of goalkeeper, who places an emphasis on defending above distribution. His 72.1% save percentage in Serie A is the second best in the division, behind only Genoa’s Matter Perin, while his clean sheet haul of 14 is unparalleled in Italian football.
6. Alisson (Liverpool)
It’s been a trying season for Liverpool, who have fallen well short of their usual lofty standards. Virgil Van Dijk’s absence has caused chaos in an erstwhile solid backline, yet Alisson has been his reliable self between the posts. His 73% save ratio is the sixth highest in the Premier League, while his passing accuracy (85%) is the highest among first choice ‘keepers.
Not only a gifted shot-stopper, but also a great organiser and an inspirational presence behind that red-shirted backline. Good with his feet and seeming to be constantly oozing with confidence, goalkeepers like Alisson are a rare breed. Liverpool are lucky to have him.
5. Edouard Mendy (Chelsea)
Unsatisfied with Kepa’s performances last season, Chelsea moved quickly to snap up former Rennes No.1 Edouard Mendy last summer. It’s proved inspired business, especially given the relatively cheap £22m he cost the Blues.
In his debut Premier League campaign, Mendy ranks second in the division for both accurate passes and clean sheets – not bad for a player getting to grips with a new language in a new country.
Like all the best stoppers, Mendy saves his best performances for the biggest stage of all. The 29-year-old proved the difference between victory and defeat in the Champions League semi-final second leg against Real Madrid. While Chelsea were the better side throughout, it was the Senegalese’s lightning reactions which prevented Karim Benzema from scoring on two occasions. He has developed into one of Europe’s top stoppers at Stamford Bridge, and is only going to improve next season.
4. Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)
It almost seems funny to recall that Thibault Courtois looked a little out of his depth after joining Real Madrid in 2019. The Belgian got over his bumpy start and has reaffirmed his status as one of the most feared stoppers in world football, helping the side to La Liga glory last season and playing a big role in this year’s title charge.
The Belgian boasts the second-best save percentage in La Liga, stopping 76.6% of the attempts he’s faced, and conceded just 24 goals in 34 matches, the third best in the division. Like the aforementioned Mendy, Courtois was sensational in the second-leg of the Champions League semi-final between Madrid and Chelsea. Without the four or five incredible saves, the game would have been dead and buried by half time. Those are the moments that set the vert best goalkeepers apart and Courtois proved he belongs to that group. At just 28, he is only just hitting him prime as a goalkeeper and may actually be improving too.
He will be hoping to inspire Belgium to glory at Euro 2020 this summer.
3. Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)
It wasn’t long ago that people were talking about Manuel Neuer in the past tense. A player who finished third in the 2014 Ballon d’Or voting began to struggle towards the end of the decade with recurring foot injuries. Things took their toll on the Bayern and Germany captain, leading to repeated calls for Neuer to be replaced in the national team by Marc Andre ter Stegen.
But all of those doubts and concerns were banished last season, as Neuer – back to his confident best – inspired Bayern to a treble. Neuer boasts the fifth highest save percentage in the German top flight and the highest pass completion, proving he is a real asset to Bayern’s attacking play as well as a fine stopper.
On his day, there is still nobody better than Manuel Neuer.
2. Ederson (Manchester City)
In an age where goalkeepers are required to participate in build-up play, few no.1s can rival Manchester City’s Brazilian goalkeeper. Whether knocking it first time to Fernandinho between two on-rushing attackers or pinging it 60-yards onto Raheem Sterling’s big toe, Ederson is adept at getting City on the front foot, whatever the scenario.
He’s massively improved from a defensive standpoint this season too. Whereas he boasted only the 12th best save percentage last campaign, that’s up to third this term. The 27-year-old also has the most clean sheets in the Premier League so far this season, with 18.
1. Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)
Jan Oblak remains the benchmark for goalkeeping excellence. The Slovenian has conceded the lowest number of goals in La Liga this season as Atletico Madrid have led the way for the majority of the campaign.
The Slovenian also boasts the best save percentage in the league, with a ridiculous 84.2% of attempts pushed away from danger. His whopping 75% penalty save ratio (from four attempts) is also evidence of the aura he now carries – strikers quake in their boots when they come face to face with the 6ft2 custodian.
He is great on the ball, good in the area, positionally excellent, strong and a great communicator. Nobody else even comes close.