Bigger Picture #1 : The Top 11 goalkeepers in the world
In a new mini-series of blogs in the next few weeks, I will discuss my feelings in the bigger picture of world football, beginning with simply the best players in each position in the game today.
I think the stripping back for now will make the blogs more enticing for the general reader than something particularly in-depth which usually gets posted on #SSM.
Here are my thoughts on the top 11 Goalkeepers in the world right now. This takes into account current form, past success/failure, and demeanour.
The reason it is eleven rather than ten is because top 10s are overused, let’s be original here!
11: Rui PATRICIO (Wolves)
The Portuguese stopper for me is the most underrated ‘keeper in world football, boasting four trophies in his time with Sporting and of course a Euro 2016 winners medal with his nation. He made 467 appearances for his boyhood club before mutually leaving the club alongside Gelson Martins, William Carvalho and several others after the team was attacked at their training ground.
Patricio has shown he’s not only a good goalkeeper but a good person, choosing the number 11 shirt in place of 1 in honour of former Wolves stopper Carl Ikeme who has had to retire due to Leukaemia.
Patricio sits at number 10 due to his fantastic shot stopping, probably one of the best in the world at the primary job of the goalkeeper. His distribution though lacks the consistency of the next nine.
10: Gianluigi BUFFON (Paris Saint-Germain)
What can be said about the 40 year-old Italian, still going strong 23 years since his debut in 1995. After 17 years at Juventus, he has finally moved on to PSG in his aim to win that one missing link in his illustrious career: that UEFA Champions League winners medal.
Buffon to his credit has began his career very well with PSG being used in a rotational role with Alphonse Areola, with ‘Les Parisiens’ becoming the first side in history to win their first 12 matches of a season in history of top-flight football. Admittedly its Ligue 1. But still a good achievement.
9: Hugo LLORIS (Tottenham Hotspur)
One of five Premier League names in this list, Lloris has to be one of the most confusing yet brilliant goalkeepers in the world at the moment. If he removed the needless drink-driving, the random runs to the edge of his own box which usually lead to opposition goals, he would be nearer the premier positions in the hierarchy.
He’s a World Cup winning captain who always has that one mistake in him. There is so much still to come from Lloris consistency wise but I’m unsure whether he will ever reach his true maximum.
8: Samir HANDANOVIC (Inter Milan)
Slovenian stopper Handanovic is in the unfortunate position to be one of the best in the world, yet still not the best in his country, being second to a player who is very prominent in the world of goalkeepers at the moment.
He is one of only three non-Italian ‘keepers to win the Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year, which he has done twice since his arrival in 2004, firstly with Udinese, then the Milan side.
He is known as the world’s best penalty saver, having kept out 23 already in his Serie A career, one behind another former Inter man Gianluca Pagliuca.
7: Manuel NEUER (Bayern Munich)
A lot of people will be sceptical at the fact I’ve placed the 4 time FIFpro World XI participant so low in the list, but his injuries in recent years in my opinion has taken their toll on the gargantuan German.
Neuer has probably been at the top of football since 2010 when he became first choice for Germany in South Africa, admittedly above the now wrestler Tim Wiese and Hans-Jörg Butt, a keeper who fired in 26 goals from penalty kicks in his Bundesliga career, but not big names at all.
I think he has the ability to return right back to the top of the list, but at the age of 32 he is no spring chicken and will probably be replaced at the Allianz ArenA soon enough.
6: Marc-Andre TER-STEGEN (Barcelona)
Germany certainly have been blessed for a long while now with Oliver Kahn, Manuel Neuer and now Marc-Andre Ter-Stegen in the goalkeeping role. Having signed for Barca in 2014 from boyhood club Borussia Monchengladbach, he has had to work his way into the side having originally been second choice.
Having won a Champions League, 3 La Ligas and four Copa Del Rey titles, Ter-Stegen has certainly been a success since that £9.7m move from Gladbach. Whether he can maintain his place in Germany’s side with the return of Neuer will truly measure his longevity at the top of the game.
5: ALISSON Becker (Liverpool)
Big Brazilian Becker certainly has established himself as one of the top ‘keepers in the world since the beginning of last season, and shockingly he hasn’t even made 100 professional league appearances yet!
Having been second choice to Wojciech Szczesny in his first season in Rome, Becker made his debut in the opening fixture of 2017/18. His performances saw the Romans make the Champions League Semi-Final, losing 7–6 on aggregate to his future club.
Alisson has added a new dimension to Liverpool, allowing them to play the slightly more patient and cautious game that has been so successful so far this season as you can rely on him to bail the team out and win points in big situations, a tactic that would be perhaps a little risky with Loris Karius or Simon Mignolet in goal.
4: Thibaut COURTOIS (Real Madrid)
Although the beginning to his Los Blancos career has been much maligned, Thibaut Courtois’ previous five seasons have been nothing short of exceptional for club and country.
Having been a stalwart in Atletico’s first run to the Champions League final in 2014, Courtois couldn’t replicate such for Chelsea in that competition, however in the Premier League the Belgian has won two titles alongside two league cups and an FA Cup.
Courtois may be the best shot stopper in the planet, perhaps eclipsing the players above him in his prime, but maybe he peaked too early at Atleti and his career is destined to descend. Still he is one of the best and will remain at that level for a long while yet.
3: David DE GEA (Manchester United)
De Gea and Neuer is the past three-four years have been the go-to top-two in football for goalkeepers, but the tide is turning with the development of the position in the past five years.
But that doesn’t stop the Spaniard being the best player at his current club at the moment. Without De Gea it is difficult to imagine United having the successes they have done in recent years, picking up the Europa League and League Cup under Jose Mourinho and the FA Cup under Louis van Gaal.
De Gea’s placed third for me mainly because the two above have probably changed the way their own teams have played in the times they have played for them. It is tight between the top three but De Gea has to just fall down to third.
2: EDERSON Moraes (Manchester City)
I think this man has changed the face of modern goalkeeping in England completely, mainly due to Pep Guardiola. Ederson could seriously play in midfield.
Since his arrival in 2017, Ederson has impressed immensely in all departments of his keeping game. His distribution is hands down the best in the world and nobody can argue. The man can ping a ball on a sixpence nine times out of ten, with 60 yard passes a common feature of his natural game. His shot-stopping is some of the best in the business, especially for someone who doesn’t have to usually do very much. Concentration, Handling, Penalties, this kid has the lot.
I can recall one mistake by Ederson in his time at City so far. One failed clearance falling to Mo Salah in January 2018, in which the Egyptian put away from 35 yards to make it 4–1 in Liverpool’s 4–3 win.
It amazes me how Brazil have come across two of the world’s best who simply will improve year on year on year in Alisson and Ederson. Whoever is in charge of the Samba nation certainly has a dilemma to consider.
1: Jan OBLAK (Atletico Madrid)
Surely it is time for the Slovenian to be noticed as the best in the world. As Atletico’s defensive structure is hailed by so many it has been difficult for people to give Oblak the credit he deserves, but recently that structure has weakened and that has shown the pure brilliance of the 25 year old formerly of Benfica.
The former teammate of Ederson, Oblak has kept more clean sheets (73) than he has conceded La Liga goals (71) which in itself in an absolutely incredible stat and achievement, but its the fact that his save percentage is the highest in the league since his arrival which is even more staggering.
Slovenia are another team who have stumbled upon a golden generation of two goalkeepers who are very much at the top of the sport at the moment. Unlike Brazil though Slovenia don’t really have the players in the outfield roles to challenge in any other manner.
Thanks very much for reading, tune in next week for the 11 best full-backs in world football!