Ranking the Best Goalkeepers in World Football
Goalkeepers have been in the news recently. Have you noticed?
From Gianluigi Donnarumma's "betrayal" of Milan through Manchester City's dropping of £35 million on Ederson Moraes to Hugo Lloris' remarkable howler against Sweden, we've been treated to story after story regarding the men between the sticks.
With that in mind, we took a stab at ranking the best goalkeepers in the world right now. All are Europe-based, with all but two plying their trade in the top five leagues.
They're ranked based on how good they are from a general standpoint. That means 2016-17 form is pretty important but not the absolute determiner on how they're ordered.
The top 20 goalkeepers in world football is a tough field to break into; the quality on show is high. With that in mind, commiserations to these five shot-stoppers who fell just short of the list.
Jeroen Zoet, PSV Eindhoven
PSV produced the joint-best defensive record in the Eredivisie last season, conceding just 23 goals, and much of that was down to Zoet. A monster one-on-one presence while also superb on the goal line, the Dutchman should interest any club looking for a cheap upgrade between the sticks this summer.
Wojciech Szczesny, Roma (on loan from Arsenal)
Arsenal have a tough choice to make this summer. Petr Cech's showing signs of decline, while Szczesny put his career back on track in 2016-17 by holding Brazil No. 1 Alisson out of the Roma side and playing every league game.
Kevin Trapp, Paris Saint-Germain
A few wobbles this season saw him dip in and out of the starting XI, and while Trapp is a good goalkeeper, he hasn't entirely convinced during his tenure in the French capital.
Diego Alves, Valencia
Had an up-and-down 2016-17 in line with Valencia's travails, but generally speaking, you can rely on Alves to get you out of a tight spot. He's second to none with regard to saving penalties.
Bernd Leno, Bayer Leverkusen
A good goalkeeper who seems to be a little down on his luck. Two years ago, Leno would have made the top 20, but right now he's making too many errors—be it for Germany or Bayer Leverkusen.
20. Kasper Schmeichel, Leicester City
Over the last two seasons, Schmeichel has set about proving he's closer to his father's skill level than many initially presumed. Lightning off his line, capable of wonderful saves and mega-consistent, it's no wonder Barcelona were linked with him last summer, per The Mirror's Tom Hopkinson.
19. Rui Patricio, Sporting CP
Portugal's No. 1, a Ballon d'Or nominee in 2016 and stellar at that year's European Championship, but while Patricio is undeniably good, he's not the most consistent performer out there.
18. Iker Casillas, FC Porto
Still going, still impressing—albeit on a lesser stage. FCP procured 76 points in 2016-17, and their success was founded in solidity, with Casillas flinging himself about heroically on several occasions. He's really rebuilt his reputation in Portugal.
17. Roman Burki, Borussia Dortmund
Pleasingly consistent for Dortmund last season, but the weaknesses Burki possesses are troubling: he flaps at crosses (still), doesn't command the area too well and punches balls back into dangerous areas. Remove that from his game and he's potentially a top-10 goalkeeper.
16. Anthony Lopes, Lyon
You can forgive a few errors this season given Lopes' general brilliance since joining Lyon. From 2014-16, they likely wouldn't have made the Champions League without him. He plays second fiddle to Rui Patricio at international level, but to many that doesn't make an awful lot of sense (though Patricio was superb at Euro 2016).
15. Petr Cech, Arsenal
A veteran of the game, you can still trust Cech in key situations and his long arms still produce good saves. His mobility has completely gone, though, and he seems to suffer muscle-strain injuries too often for comfort.
14. Timo Horn, FC Cologne
Horn is one of the five best German goalkeepers around (an achievement in itself). He missed a chunk of 2016-17 injured, but his stock is still high. He's extremely solid and rarely makes errors.
13. Ralf Fahrmann, Schalke 04
The second-highest-rated Bundesliga keeper on this list, Fahrmann is an all-round performer who excels in many categories and lacks in none. In particular, he's strong, decisive and largely error-free.
12. Ederson Moraes, Manchester City
Manchester City new boy Ederson had a stonking 2016-17 for Benfica, conceding just 18 goals in 34 games and putting in some highlight-reel performances, such as in the Champions League round-of-16 first leg against Borussia Dortmund. How will he adapt to a) the Premier League, and b) Pep Guardiola's style, though?
11. Pepe Reina, Napoli
Ducked out of Liverpool rather unceremoniously in 2013, but Reina's career has been rejuvenated at Napoli. He's one of the most dependable stoppers in Serie A now.
10. Keylor Navas, Real Madrid
Real Madrid appear desperate to replace Keylor Navas, but at times that has seemed strange: Granted, there are at least nine better options out there, but the Costa Rican has been a major factor in some key results over the last three years, and it's not as if Los Blancos haven't been wildly successful with him in goal.
Early in 2016-17, Navas did wobble a little, committing a few errors and weakening his own position. Real Madrid also conceded too many goals this season (41), but that might be more to do with some bad defending than anything else.
As the business end of the campaign approached, Navas found his A-game. He was stunning in the April Clasico, strong against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League and crucial against Malaga in the game that sealed the Liga title.
9. Gianluigi Donnarumma, AC Milan
Gianluigi Donnarumma has been the centre of attention so far this summer after deciding not to renew his contract with AC Milan. With 12 months left on his deal, it has left the club reeling and has sparked a furore of interest in his services, conducted reliably by super-agent Mino Raiola.
The Italian is just 18 years of age and has had to delay school exams in order to represent his country at the Under-21 European Championship. The fact there's such a level of drama surrounding one so young speaks to just how fine a player he already is—and how remarkably excellent he might well become in, say, five years' time.
He's already past the half-century mark of senior appearances for Milan, and in those he's shown he can be a one-man show. So difficult to beat, it's seemingly only perfectly hit, precision strikes that can get the better of him. His big, bear-like frame and ridiculous reach swat everything else away.
8. Hugo Lloris, Tottenham
Tottenham Hotspur posted the best defensive record in the Premier League this season and the joint-best the season before. The back line is an excellent one, granted, but when all else fails, Hugo Lloris comes to the rescue.
There's perhaps one knock on his game: distribution. His struggles to accurately direct longer kicks to team-mates was a thorn in Spurs' side all campaign long...and was exposed in ruthless fashion by Sweden's Ola Toivonen earlier this month.
But that aside, he's as good as you'll get. His reflexes and on-the-line work are incredible, while his ability to play the role of sweeper-keeper gives Tottenham an extra element to their play.
7. Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Barcelona
In a close, competitive field, Marc-Andre ter Stegen is seen as the second-best German goalkeeper in the game today. You'd expect nothing less from Barcelona's No. 1.
Ter Stegen is at the forefront of the goalkeeping technical game, boasting a pair of feet and an ease on the ball that trumps most. He aces the regular side of the game, too, providing safe, secure hands and shot-stopping prowess few can rival.
The only knock on the German is that, for some strange, incomprehensible reason, he turns to jelly when he plays for his national side. Whenever Joachim Low gives him a shot, he fumbles it.
6. Thibaut Courtois, Chelsea
Thibaut Courtois is yet to hit the heights he found for Atletico Madrid over at Stamford Bridge, but he's still a damn fine goalkeeper that Antonio Conte knows he can hang his hat on.
Incredible reach thanks to impossibly long arms allows the Belgian to stop corner-bound shots few others can, and his long frame allows him to dominate his box and claim high crosses most can't reach.
At the start of the 2015-16 season, he experienced what was possibly the first rough patch of his career, making a string of errors and contributing to Chelsea's awful start under Jose Mourinho, but he recovered swiftly and has played well for 18 straight months.
5. Samir Handanovic, Inter
Beginning our top five is the perennially underrated Samir Handanovic. His presence means that two of our top five are Slovenian (no prizes for guessing the other, who drops in later on)—a remarkable feat for a country with a population of just over two million people.
In 2016-17, Handanovic single-handedly foiled teams and scraped Inter points. In games they lost, he was at times the reason things didn't get embarrassing—for example, this save against Edin Dzeko in a 2-1 defeat to Roma defied belief.
Before they bucked up temporarily (under Stefano Pioli), Handanovic was the saving grace of Inter.
4. Gianluigi Buffon, Juventus
At the ripe age of 39, Gianluigi Buffon is still a top-five goalkeeper in world football. He's stood the test of time and then some, performing superbly in every season since debuting back in 1995.
As far as commanders go, Buffon is the No. 1. He's been blessed with some remarkable defensive lines during the course of his career, but he still whips them into shape and isn't afraid to tell the likes of Giorgio Chiellini they're in the wrong.
His mobility and reaction times have faded just a tinge; the latter stages of the recent Champions League campaign proved that. But it's a measure of how good Buffon is that, even in slight decline, he's still better than the large majority of the field.
3. David De Gea, Manchester United
Deciding between David De Gea and Buffon for a podium spot was tough, but the former just about edges it. That he does so is testament to his ability, as Buffon is still in fine fettle.
But there's a reason Real Madrid have set their hearts on him: he's an incredible goalkeeper, one of the world's finest, and on his day, there is simply no beating him.
Last season proved he's able to concentrate and spring into action on occasion when needed—a genuine skill in itself, and one you shouldn't be surprised to see a Spaniard schooled in—and the one before proved he can win a team points on his own.
2. Jan Oblak, Atletico Madrid
Much is made of Atletico Madrid's vaunted, stubborn defensive line, but behind them is an equally capable, world-class performer between the sticks.
When teams finally manage to squeak a little space to shoot against Los Colchoneros, they then have to face up to the task of finding a way past Jan Oblak. The Slovenian giant represents a hulking presence on the line and has the kind of reflexes many can only dream of.
Certain sequences of play that he produces defy belief; springing from spot to spot, he's able to reel off triple-save moves that will blow your mind—like this one against Bayer Leverkusen this season.
Atletico boast the best defensive (goals conceded) record over the last three seasons of any La Liga side, and Oblak's been as crucial to that as any one defender.
1. Manuel Neuer, Bayern Munich
Top of the pile is, perhaps predictably, Manuel Neuer.
As Bayern Munich and Germany's No. 1 goalkeeper, he's been an inescapable presence in football even for the most casual of football fans. It's also impossible to not notice him on the pitch, as his unorthodox style of play has assisted in changing the way we view the entire position.
He's a consistent winner; you have to go back to 2010 to find a year in which he did not win a trophy for either club or country. His sweeper-keeper style revolutionised Bayern's game under both Jupp Heynckes and Pep Guardiola, and his brilliance with the ball at his feet has inspired (or resurrected) an entirely new coaching style with No. 1s.
Neuer's been the king of 'keepers for around half a decade now, and he's not showing any signs of slipping.
All statistics via WhoScored.com