Top 20 European-Based Goalkeepers This Season

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentMarch 21, 2012

Top 20 European-Based Goalkeepers This Season

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    Goalkeepers can be the most underappreciated players on the field but the easiest to scapegoat.

    Just ask David de Gea.

    This article aims to list the top 20 European-based goalkeepers this season.

    I emphasise this season as I’ve ranked the goalkeepers according to their form, not reputation. 

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20. Manuel Neuer, Bayern Munich, Age: 25

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    Manuel Neuer is a perfect example of why you should never bank on mercurial players. 

    On his good days, he looks like Sepp Maier. When Neuer is bad, he is Heurelho Gomes bad.

    How bad can he play against Borussia Mönchengladbach? 

    Both losses were because of Neuer's ineptitude. 

    If you think I'm being critical, you should start reading Kicker, because they've ranked Neuer as the 14th best goalkeeper in the Bundesliga. 

    Now that's just over the top because he has world-class pedigree. 

    That was demonstrated in 0-0 draws against Freiburg and Hoffenheim. Those draws could have easily been losses, if not for Neuer's influence. 

19. David De Gea, Manchester United, Age: 21

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    Before that game against Chelsea, I was telling my friends how much of a liability David de Gea was.

    Suffice to say, he definitely shut me up with that save. 

    Did he get new contacts? He did something because recently he's been playing like the third-most expensive goalkeeper ever. 

    He needs to maintain his form and cut down on the errors. Six mistakes this season isn't acceptable. 

18. Hugo Lloris, Lyon, Age: 25

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    Hugo Lloris is one of the most talented goalkeepers I've ever seen but I've been unimpressed with his performances this season. 

    He cost Lyon the game against Caen, was a deer caught in the headlights during a 4-0 thumping by Real Madrid and just hasn't been a dominant keeper. 

    Even though I don't agree with L'Équipe ranking Lloris as the fifth-best goalkeeper in Ligue 1, I do agree that two of the four goalkeepers ahead of Lloris have been considerably better this season. 

17. Tim Howard, Everton, Age: 33

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    Tim Howard has moved on from his failures at Manchester United and become a dependable goalkeeper for Everton. 

    Just some food for thought, can you imagine if he didn't spill Benni McCarthy's free kick? 

    José Mourinho wouldn't have ran down the Old Trafford touchline meaning he wouldn't have gone onto win the UEFA Champions League. 

16. Thibaut Courtois, Atlético Madrid (on Loan from Chelsea), Age: 19

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    Like Bernd Leno, Barcelona seems to bring the worst out of Thibaut Courtois. 

    In both games, he's looked out of his depth. He also found himself between a rock and a hard place against Real Madrid, which led to him being sent off early in the game. 

    It's a concern when a player shrinks in the big games, but he's only 19. 

    Several months ago, I published a loan report on Courtois:

    Maturity beyond his years. Exudes confidence. Good shot stopper.

    Thibaut Courtois has been very impressive. He has only had one bad game and that was against Barcelona, which can be excused.

    He has revealed that Chelsea will loan him out for three more years. If he is this good at 19, one wonders how good he'll be at 22. He's a world-class goalkeeper in the making.

    Since then, his form has slightly regressed but he is still a kid. 

    Chelsea have found their successor to Petr Čech. Talking about Čech, will he be on the list? 

15. Bernd Leno, Bayer Leverkusen, Age: 20

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    If you're not familiar with Bernd Leno's Bundesliga performances, you probably watched his horror show of a game against Barcelona. 

    He made two clear errors and should have saved another. 

    It's a learning curve for the young German because he's way better than that.  

14. Víctor Valdés, Barcelona, Age: 30

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    Víctor Valdés can win 10 consecutive Ricardo Zamora trophies and it still wouldn't change my opinion. 

    He wins those trophies because Barcelona completes 88 percent of their passes every game whilst controlling 70 percent of possession. 

    In a 2-2 draw against Valencia, Valdés didn't even make a single save. He cost Barça the game against Osasuna. Made a mistake in the El Clásico. Was a spectator when AC Milan put two past him. 

    At least he isn't as bad as Roberto Bonano, but Valdés is nowhere near the quality of Iker Casillas. 

    There's a reason why it took Valdés eight seasons before finally making an appearance for the Spanish national team.

    He's a good goalkeeper but he's not a world-beater like some Barça fans make him out to be. 

    If he played for Espanyol, he'd be as relevant as Cristian Álvarez. 

13. Brad Friedel, Tottenham Hotspur, Age: 40

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    Tottenham Hotspur's season could have been radically different if they were beaten 7-0 by Manchester United. However Spurs only lost 3-0 thanks to Brad Friedel's brilliance. 

    He made 11 saves whilst his defence were still on holiday. 

    To think Spurs supporters had to put up with Heurelho Gomes as a goalkeeper. 

12. Sven Ulreich, Stuttgart, Age: 23

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    Unfortunately Sven Ulreich was the victim of an assault by Paolo Guerrero.

    Thankfully Ulreich wasn't injured but it overshadowed another tidy performance from the goalkeeper. 

    He has world-class potential. 

11. Christian Abbiati, AC Milan, Age: 34

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    Dida was never the same after being hit by a flare. Maybe it coincided with a lack of desire to remain on top because his form disintegrated from there. 

    Christian Abbiati has been the biggest winner from Dida's fall from grace. 

    I've never been a big fan of him, but this version of Abbiati is a more consistent one. 

    He has accumulated a high 3.3 saves to goal conceded average. The acceptable average is around 2.2. 

    His error in a 2-0 loss against Juventus was rectified when he kept AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League with saves to deny Arsenal's epic comeback. 

    Mind you, Robin van Persie will live to regret that ill-advised chip. 

10. Stéphane Ruffier, Saint-Étienne, Age: 25

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    Getty images doesn't even have a picture of Stéphane Ruffier which underscores how underrated he is. 

    It's sad this guy doesn't get more hype because he has pedigree. 

    A few days ago, he outkept Hugo Lloris and that game was a snapshot of how both goalkeepers have played this season. 

    Earlier in the season, Ruffier made pivotal saves in a scoreless draw against Marseille.

    With Jean-Pascal Mignot (the guy that once got red carded when he wasn't even playing) sent off, Ruffier rose to the occasion and salvaged a point for his side. 

    Ruffier may not be as talented as Lloris, but the Saint-Étienne goalkeeper is having the season of his life. 

9. Wojciech Szczęsny, Arsenal, Age: 21

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    Pepe Reina would be playing for Arsenal if Liverpool didn't block a £20 million offer. 

    The fact that Arsène Wenger was willing to shell out that much money for a goalkeeper showed how inept Manuel Almunia and Łukasz Fabiański were. 

    Vito Mannone has been terrible too. 

    Clearly whoever scouts goalkeepers for Arsenal needs to be evaluated. 

    Nonetheless Wojciech Szczęsny has been a blessing in disguise because Wenger had no other choice but to give the brash youngster a chance. 

    Szczęsny potentially could be Arsenal's No. 1 for the next decade. 

8. Tim Krul, Newcastle United, Age: 23

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    Tim Krul has been outstanding for Newcastle United. 

    At times, there are shades of Shay Given in Krul's saves. 

    His six saves against Queens Park Rangers allowed Newcastle to ensure a 1-0 win.

    He followed it up with a world-class display against Blackburn Rovers by denying Anthony Modeste shot after shot. Don't forget about him saving David Dunn's penalty. 

    How about that amazing double save in the Tyne–Wear derby? Both Sebastian Larsson and James McClean thought they had scored. 

    On the weekend, he was imperious against Norwich City, with a highlight reel save to deny Zak Whitbread. 

7. Gianluigi Buffon, Juventus, Age: 34

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    Gianluigi Buffon's statistics are miles ahead of his fellow peers in the Serie A. 

    A eye-catching 4.7 saves to goal conceded average. As I've stated before, the acceptable average is 2.2. A 0.54 goals against average, the next best is 0.86 (Christian Abbiati). 

    That being said, Andrea Barzagli has done his best imitation of Gaetano Scirea.

    He has been unbelievable and he deserves more credit than Buffon. 

    That's not to say Buffon hasn't played well, he's kept at an excellent standard, but do not underestimate Barzagli's season. 

6. Samir Handanović, Udinese, Age: 27

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    Samir Handanović is the best in the world when it comes to saving penalties.  

    He is so feared that Rasmus Elm, who was perfect from 12 yards out this season, blasted his spot kick over. 

    A week later, Handanović saved Edinson Cavani's penalty, which was the second time Cavani had failed to convert against Handanović.  

5. Salvatore Sirigu, Paris Saint-Germain, Age: 25

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    Salvatore Sirigu is Paris Saint-Germain's best goalkeeper since Bernard Lama. 

    PSG have started 13 different players in the back four, but Sirigu has still been Lama-esq. 

    According to L'Équipe, Sirigu is the best player in Ligue 1 right now.

    That's right, better than Eden Hazard, Nenê, Javier Pastore and Loïc Rémy.

4. Joe Hart, Manchester City, Age: 24

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    Joe Hart has high concentration levels and his reflexes are cat-like. 

    It is advantageous for Hart to have Vincent Kompany, the Premier League's best centre-back, protecting him. 

3. Michel Vorm, Swansea City, Age: 28

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    Michel Vorm doesn't have the league's best centre-back in Vincent Kompany in front of him, nor does he have Micah Richards as a teammate. 

    Yet, Vorm is only one clean sheet behind Joe Hart. What the Dutchman has done for Swansea City has been nothing short of a miracle. 

    The question on my mind is can Vorm sustain this form season in, season out? 

2. Iker Casillas, Real Madrid, Age: 30

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    In terms of achievements, there is no doubt that  Iker Casillas is No. 1. But in terms of form this season, he has been typical Casillas—brilliant as usual. 

    The kid ahead of him has been so outrageously dominant this season, that I have to rank him above Casillas. 

1. Marc-André Ter Stegen, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Age: 19

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    I respect Kicker as a publication but how on earth is Marc-André ter Stegen not the No. 1 ranked goalkeeper?

    He's ranked No. 5—are you kidding me? 

    He's the most dominant goalkeeper in Europe this season. 

    If you watch him regularly, what do you see? World class is what you should see. It's so blatantly obvious that this kid is the real deal.  

    Yes, he has been better than Iker Casillas this season. 

    Here are a few questions: Álvaro Arbeloa or Tony Jantschke? Sergio Ramos or Roel Brouwers? Pepe or Dante? Marcelo or Filip Daems? 

    If you picked all Real Madrid players, why is their defence inferior to Borussia Mönchengladbach? 

    Here's another question: how many of Mönchengladbach's defenders would be in your World XI? 

    Zero. Yet, Mönchengladbach have one of the best defences in Europe. 

    Ter Stegen is the main reason why that is the case. 

    Casillas ter Stegen
    Goals Conceded 24 16
    Clean Sheets  11 11
    Saves 60 82
    Goals Against Average 0.89 0.62
    Saves to Goal Conceded Average 2.5 5.1
    Save Percentage 66.7% 83%

Explaining Certain Omissions

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    Maarten Stekelenburg, Roma, Age: 29

    Would be on the list if I made it a top 30. Same applies with Federico Marchetti.

    Shay Given, Aston Villa, Age: 35

    Ali Al-Habsi and Wayne Hennessey have played better and they aren’t on the list, so Given won’t be on the list.

    Pepe Reina, Liverpool, Age: 29

    His form has been sporadic and there’s a reason why he hasn’t won the Premier League Golden Glove in the past three seasons.

    Petr Čech, Chelsea, Age: 29

    Thankfully he showed up against Napoli. The fact he’s still performing at an acceptable level is a testament to his perseverance in overcoming such an unfortunate accident. Maybe I should lower the expectation levels because he’ll never get back to the dominant Čech.

    Roman Weidenfeller, Borussia Dortmund, Age: 31

    I don't really rate Weidenfeller. He's very lucky to have a world-class centre-back in Mats Hummels as a teammate.

    Júlio César, Inter Milan, Age: 32

    Has been substandard.

    Igor Akinfeev, CSKA Moscow, Age: 25

    Has been out with injury since August 2012.

    Fernando Muslera, Galatasaray, Age: 25

    I haven’t watched Muslera since the Copa América because I don’t have satellite access to the Turkish Süper Lig. If you’re Turkish or you regularly watch the Süper Lig, please opine.  

    Vincent Enyeama, Lille, Age: 29

    Current status: benchwarmer.

    Steve Mandanda, Marseille, Age: 26

    Aléxis Thébaux and Steeve Elana have played better and they’re not on the list, so Mandanda won’t be on the list. 

    Please read Top 5 Things Pelé Does Not Want You to Know

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