Being a goalkeeper can really be a thankless job. You could make ten brilliant saves in one match, but one bad call and that’s all everyone will remember. Add to that the fact that the modern goalkeeper is now not only required to be a premium shot-stopper but also good with his feet. Here’s my take on the top 10 goalies in the world right now.
Before you get into the list do remember that there is a myriad of reasons – many unquantifiable – that go into determining lists like these. Most of these entries might even reflect upon my subjectivity, meaning you might agree with some of my mentions, or none at all. Either way, we’d love to hear from you!
Well then, here we go.
10 – David de Gea
Age – 30 (7 November 1990)
Country – Spain
Current club – Manchester United (Premier League)
All right. Hear me out.
Yes, David de Gea has been nowhere near the peak he had reached few years ago and has since gained a bit of a reputation for howlers. That said, this season has seen de Gea go a long way to regain some of that lost form. He’s also had to stay alert at all times with the arrival of Dean Henderson, who when asked to deputise has done a decent job, ready to pounce for the number one spot if the Spaniard shows signs of prolonged mediocrity.
Over the past decade, de Gea has established himself as one of the best in stopping shots with his feet. Amongst the GKs currently playing in the Premier League, de Gea has the second most number of clean sheets (121), behind only Spurs’ Joe Hart (127). That is, of course, until Petr Čech decides to give it another go.
9 – Keylor Navas
Age – 34 (15 December 1986)
Country – Costa Rica
Current club – Paris Saint-Germain (Ligue 1 Uber Eats)
For better or worse, it always feels like Keylor Navas doesn’t get the plaudits he deserves. Despite being part of the Real Madrid side that won three consecutive Champions League titles between 2016 and 2018, the Costa Rican hero has always had to make extra effort to make himself heard.
Now 34, Navas is guarding the net for PSG and with 32 clean sheets in 58 appearances in all competitions, he’s the best goalkeeper in the French topflight.
8 – Samir Handanović
Age – 36 (14 July 1984)
Country – Slovenia
Current club – Inter Milan (Serie A TIM)
Samir Handanović has been one of the most consistent performers in football since the beginning of last decade. Now 36, the Slovenian is reaching his advanced years but shows no signs of slowing down. With 130 clean sheets in 371 appearances for Inter Milan in all competitions, Handanović continues to be a reliable presence in Serie A year in, year out.
7 – Gianluigi Donnarumma
Age – 21 (25 February 1999)
Country – Italy
Current club – AC Milan (Serie A TIM)
It’s baffling how Gigi Donnarumma is still only 21. Thrown into the fires of calamity that engulfed the rossoneri for the better part of last decade when he was only 16, Donnarumma not only persevered, but managed to establish himself as the number one goalkeeper at a time when the club still had Diego López and Christian Abbiati. His maturity and calmness has always defied his tender years, which explains why he has already played 229 times for the club and has a long career ahead of him.
You have to feel for the other talented Italian goalkeepers, who for a long time remained in the shadow of the eternal Gigi Buffon (who’s still playing, by the way), only to be outshone by a precocious teenager who looks set to dominate the scene for the next two decades.
6 – Thibaut Courtois
Age – 28 (11 May 1992)
Country – Belgium
Current club – Real Madrid (LaLiga Santander)
Thibaut Courtois is no stranger to these kinds of lists. The Belgian has been a highly rated prospect ever since his loan spell at Atlético de Madrid (2011-2014).
The 28-year-old earned his move to Real Madrid in the summer of 2018 after impressing as Chelsea’s numero uno for four years (2014-18). However, his first season was quite a calamitous one as he tried to fit into his new surroundings, which was not helped by the fact that the Real fans took time to get used to the former Atlético man. However, he was supported by coach Zinedine Zidane ahead of the 2019-20 season and has since come a long way in showing some of his past self, being instrumental in his side’s LaLiga title win of last season.
5 – Marc-André ter Stegen
Age – 28 (30 April 1992)
Country – Germany
Current club – FC Barcelona (LaLiga Santander)
Marc-André ter Stegen has not looked back since Barça’s 2015 Champions League triumph. The German is widely regarded as one of the best for dealing with shots from close distances.
The 28-year-old has been long presumed to succeed Manuel Neuer as Germany’s number one. Before last season, many believed he had already surpassed Neuer, but the recent performances of their respective clubs and Neuer’s resilience have ensured there’s yet some time before ter Stegen can consider himself Germany MNT’s first choice. After all, you can’t keep a good Man(uel) down.
4 – Ederson Moraes
Age – 27 (17 August 1993)
Country – Brazil
Current club – Manchester City (Premier League)
When Pep Guardiola arrived at Manchester City in 2016, he was adamant of working with a goalkeeper that was good with his feet. When his first choice, Claudio Bravo, didn’t work out, he swiftly moved in for a lesser known Ederson Moraes from Benfica, who wasted no time in proving why Guardiola chose him.
Ederson is the perfect example of a modern-day goalkeeper. Winner of last season’s Premier League Golden Glove with 16 clean sheets, the Brazilian is not only an excellent shot-stopper, he’s also a lovely passer of the ball, with some of his long balls well capable of putting most professional midfielders to shame. While his teammates at City consider him the best penalty taker at the club, the Brazilian himself thinks he’d make a decent left-back. Given how Pep is, who knows? Maybe someday we’ll see Ederson play in the outfield.
3 – Alisson Becker
Age – 28 (2 October 1992)
Country – Brazil
Current club – Liverpool (Premier League)
Alisson proved to be the final piece in Jürgen Klopp’s jigsaw that would take Liverpool to Champions League and Premier League glories. Much like his compatriot Ederson, Alisson took to the Premier League like a duck to water after his £67m move from Roma.
Alisson might not have Ederson’s aesthetically lobbed balls in his repertoire, but he’s sufficiently good with his feet, capable of swiftly dispatching the ball to his nearest defender. He does trump the City goalkeeper (marginally, I must add) in positioning.
2 – Manuel Neuer
Age – 34 (27 March 1986)
Country – Germany
Current club – Bayern Munich (1. Bundesliga)
I must admit, Manuel Neuer’s position in this list has been boosted a few places thanks to Bayern’s treble-winning season of 2019-20. The 34-year-old was long considered to be on the down, with reports of people asking him to step aside as Germany’s number one goalkeeper and allow Marc-André ter Stegen to take his place. Unsurprisingly, Neuer roared back, and how!
Way before Ederson, Neuer wrote the rulebook for a ball-playing goalkeeper. He has been famous for his frequent forays into midfield, even when an opposition player would be standing right beside him. Intimidating and usually unperturbed, Neuer has been a real leader at the back for both Bayern Munich and the Germany MNT. While ter Stegen will eventually take his place, one thing’s for sure – Manuel Neuer is not going to step aside easy and with his current form, not anytime soon.
1 – Jan Oblak
Age – 28 (7 January 1993)
Country – Slovenia
Current club – Atlético de Madrid (LaLiga Santander)
When it comes down to shot-stopping, there’s hardly anyone better than Atlético Madrid’s Jan Oblak. The Slovenian has kept most clean sheets in a LaLiga campaign for four out of last five seasons. He is also the fastest goalkeeper to reach 100 clean sheets in LaLiga, achieving the feat in 182 matches. In 282 matches for Atlético in all competitions, Oblak boasts a clean sheet percentage of 66.61%. Diego Simeone loves a gritty side, and he sure knows how to set up his defence.
Much like Ederson, Oblak also joined his current team from Benfica. The two once shared the benches at Rio Ave, when Oblak was there on loan for the 2012-13 season.
Wojciech Szczęsny (Juventus), Anthony Lopes (Olympique Lyonnais), Péter Gulácsi (RB Leipzig), Yann Sommer (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Nick Pope (Burnley), Rui Patricio (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur).
Do you agree with this list? Who would you rather have in your top 10?