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The position of goalkeeper is almost unrecognisable nowadays to what it was merely six or seven years ago.
No longer mere shot stoppers or cross catchers, those between the sticks are now charged with being the first point of attack, using their ball-playing abilities to start passing sequences and helping their side dominate possession.
Are mistakes made? Of course. But with high risk comes high reward and, as has been seen with the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool over the past couple of years, having a world-class No.1 can make all the difference.
So, who do we think are the 10 best goalkeepers on the planet right now?
Take a look at our rankings below:
10. Peter Gulasci
Signed for just £2m from RB Salzburg in 2015, Peter Gulasci has been nothing short of spectacular for Bundesliga high-flyers RB Leipzig over the past few years.
The Hungry international is, first and foremost, a brilliant shot stopper, but is also incredibly intuitive at knowing when to come off his line and when to stay.
Gulasci commands his box brilliantly and just in case you needed further convincing, only Bayern Munich (32) conceded fewer goals than Leipzig (37) in the Bundesliga last season.
9. Samir Handanovic
Next up is a guy who has been around since the dawn of time, or so it feels, Samir Handanovic.
Since arriving at Inter Milan from Udinese, the veteran Slovenian has never been given the credit he deserves but whether the Nerazzurri are really really good, or really really bad — and they’ve certainly walked that gambit in recent years — Handanovic has always stepped up.
Handanovic has conceded just 0.96 goals per 90 minutes in Serie A this season — a remarkably low amount for a starting goalkeeper.
8. David de Gea
What’s that you say? David de Gea is a busted flush? He’s too mistake prone now?
Yes, the Spaniard is now liable to the odd error. However, be that as it may, he still digs Manchester United out of far more holes than he throws them into.
“He makes great saves for us. He wins games for us. I still think he is the best goalkeeper in the world,” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said of De Gea after a recent, rather boring and predictable rant from the ever belligerent Roy Keane.
While Solskjaer may be going a little over the top by calling him the best goalkeeper on the planet, De Gea’s 72.32% save rate speaks volumes.
7. Thibaut Courtois
Arguably more impressive than a goalkeeper who has been consistently brilliant for an entire decade is one that has come through a period of strife to re-establish himself at the top. That is exactly what Thibaut Courtois has managed.
After struggling during his formative months at Real Madrid, following his move from Chelsea, the Belgian has re-discovered his touch when it comes to reaching those bottom corners and judging crosses, while he looks less and less clumsy with the ball at his feet with each passing game.
Real Madrid have La Liga’s best defence so far this season, conceding just 21 goals. That has played a huge part in raising them to the top of the table and Courtois — whose monumental 78.57% save rate is the highest in La Liga among ‘keepers to have faced more than 60 shots — can absolutely count himself as part of that effort.
6. Keylor Navas
Speaking of Real Madrid, it still seems peculiar to this day that Keylor Navas’ face just never fit. The Costa Rican made 162 appearances for Los Blancos between 2014 and 2019, winning three consecutive Uefa Champions League titles, as well as the 2016/17 La Liga crown.
However, it always felt like fans wanted a superstar between the sticks, so off he went to PSG and, well, he’s shown us all just what he’s made of since arriving in Paris.
11 Ligue 1 clean sheets — second-highest amount in the division — is an impressive enough record, but add the fact that no goalkeeper has bettered his five shutouts in the Champions League so far this season and you really start to get a sense of Navas’ capabilities.
The Claudio Bravo experiment never quite worked out at Manchester City but it was clear to see just what Pep Guardiola was looking for, so, when Ederson arrived, everything just seems to fall into place. The Citizens became champions, “Centurions” and “fourmidables” and you’d be a fool to underestimate how important Ederson has been to that success.
The Brazilian has it all, whether it’s pulling off cat-like saves, taking the ball from a defender under pressure or racing out to meet a cross in his own box. However, his most important weapon is that ridiculously long kicking range. Any goalkeeper who can turn a goal-kick into a goalscoring opportunity is worth a mention here, not least one who even managed to bag himself a Premier League assist last season.
4. Marc-Andre ter Stegen
If you’re going to wear Barcelona’s goalkeeper jersey, you’d better be supremely talented with the ball at your feet and, well, no La Liga ‘keeper has a higher pass completion rate than Marc-Andre ter Stegen (86.45%) this season.
More than that, though, ter Stegen just so happens to be absolutely brilliant at the old-fashioned stuff too. He is an agile shot-stopper, decisive in his box and incredibly vocal.
Honestly, without him, Barca would be much worse off this season which begs the question: how the hell has he only picked up 24 senior caps for Germany over the past eight years?
3. Manuel Neuer
Oh, that’s right, because Manuel Neuer exists.
No goalkeeper has redefined his position more than Neuer over the past decade. The Bayern Munich No.1 was the sweeper ‘keeper before sweeper ‘keepers were cool then, not content with that, he himself made sweeper ‘keepers cool.
You can point to his poor showing at the 2018 World Cup as a sign of his demise but honestly, the entire German squad was a joke in that tournament. You can say he’s past his best but that honestly feels like a lazy analysis from pundits and fans who need to watch some more Bundesliga football.
Neuer is a colossus between the sticks for Hansi Flick’s men, one who can be counted on in the very biggest moments.
2. Jan Oblak
With a pass completion rate of just 54.99%, Jan Oblak is not a goalkeeper in the same regard as say, Ter Stegen or Neuer. What he is though, is the greatest shot stopper on the planet. Hands down.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid sit deep and narrow and, therefore, don’t require a goalkeeper to squeeze up behind a high line. Instead, they need someone to claim crosses and keep the ball out of the net. There is literally nobody better suited to that team than Oblak.
78 La Liga clean sheets and counting.
1. Alisson Becker
Is Alisson quite as good at playing out as the likes of Neuer or Ter Stegen? Possibly not. Is he as ruthlessly good at stot stopping as Oblak? Close, but no cigar.
However, you still have to marvel at how ridiculously good he still is at both of those skills. If you need someone to stop that rocket heading into the top-right corner, Alisson will sort that for you. Is your defender under a bit of pressure from a couple of pressing attackers? No problem, knock out back to Alisson and he’ll calmly switch play.
What really sets him apart, though, is his uncanny ability to keep Liverpool alive in the biggest games. Think of his performance against Flamengo in the Club World Cup final, or the 91st-minute stop to deny Napoli’s Arkadiusz Milik in a Champions League group stage decider last season. Liverpool don’t win either of those competitions without Alisson pulling off those defining moments.
“It says a lot about him. We should not take him for granted. Absolutely outstanding,” Jurgen Klopp said of Alisson after the Brazilian pulled off yet more late saves in a recent 0-0 Merseyside derby draw against Everton.
“That’s what a world-class goalie is, nothing to do for 90 mins pretty much, then he’s there.”
A born champion in every sense of the term.
Honourable mentions: Hugo Lloris, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Wojciech Szczęsny Gianluigi Buffon, Dean Henderson, Bernd Leno, Martin Dubravka, Rui Patricio, Roman Burki, Jordan Pickford, Yann Sommer, Kasper Schmeichel, Nick Pope, Andre Onana, Unai Simon