Goalkeepers are one of the most important figures on a football field.
Undervalued for their contributions and over-criticised for their errors, there’s no position under quite as much scrutiny as the goalkeeper.
Their unique position makes those who excel there all the more impressive. With that in mind, here are Europe’s top 10 goalkeepers currently (overall quality is considered but the weighting is given to this season’s displays).
10. Ederson (Manchester City)
Sure, we could talk about how Ederson has been the catalyst that turned Manchester City into the dominant force they are today.
Sure, we could talk about his 13 clean sheets in all competitions, but the most pertinent stat about him this season is that he’s boasting a 67.57% save percentage in the Premier League.
This is well below his usual standards; that being said, being capable of contributing to his side’s attacking play sees the Brazilian remain among the very best modern ‘keepers.
9. David de Gea (Manchester United)
David de Gea was on some sort of other planes of existence in 2017/18, operating like Doctor Strange battling Thanos, able to summon clones of himself at will.
At least that’s how it seemed watching him repeatedly keep Manchester United alive in games they should have been killed in long ago. Well, that brilliance has been balanced out by a much more normal subsequent season.
For most of it he had still been a very good goalkeeper, but his recent error-strewn displays have cost United dearly which is what has pushed him down this list.
8. Samir Handanovic (Inter)
Perpetually underrated because he plays for the haphazard and unstable Inter, Samir Handanovic has been one of the most reliable goalkeepers in the world over the past few years.
This season he’s kept seven clean sheets in Serie A and his save percentage of 74.68% is very solid indeed.
He’s also Inter’s captain, so you know he’s reliable.
7. Peter Gulacsi (RB Leipzig)
RB Leipzig have the best defence in the Bundesliga and the Hungarian stopper, who was once third-choice at Liverpool, is a huge reason why.
Gulacsi has been absurd this season. His eight clean sheets is only topped by Manuel Neuer (10) and he has a colossal save percentage of 72.09%, the best of all regular starters with five or more shutouts in the German top flight.
6. Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)
Remember when Manuel Neuer was the best goalkeeper in the world? He looked absolutely unplayable. Like a combination of Conan The Barbarian and the Alien Bounty Hunter from X-Files.
Then he injured his foot, missed a year of action and since his return has looked decidedly… well he’s not bad but he’s definitely not the elite-level stopper he used to be.
He has an impressive 10 clean sheets but his save percentage of 69.41% is, quite incredibly, among the lowest in the Bundesliga.
5. Keylor Navas (PSG)
PSG finally worked out having a worthy goalkeeper will improve their chances of European glory. Signing a three-time Champions League winner proved to be a no-brainer and Navas has been worth every penny.
To date he’s conceded the fewest goals in Ligue 1 (18) whilst his save percentage is a respectable 73.13%, but it’s in Europe where he’s making a big difference, his five clean sheets is the best among this season’s Champions League goalies.
4. Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)
There’s something to be said for consistency and “proving it” over a long period and that’s why Marc-Andre ter Stegen is ranked so highly.
The German goalie is a ridiculous combination of Ederson and Alisson’s great strengths, where he is a maestro with the ball at his feet able to loft gentle lobs over pressing attackers heads to team-mates by the touchline but is also a pillar of strength and a dominant presence when 1 vs 1 against an onrushing striker.
He’s also a really nice guy to boot. Ter Stegen really does have it all, including the ability to create goals, no ‘keeper across Europe’s top five leagues has more assists (2) than him this season.
3. Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)
It took some time but Thibaut Courtois now feels right at home.
Real Madrid supporters weren’t always his best friend throughout a difficult 2018/19 campaign; which saw him unfortunately become a scapegoat for the club’s failings, however those days are behind him and he’s proven his worth this season.
The languid Belgian shot-stopper has kept the most clean sheets in La Liga (12) this season and Courtois’ 74.68% save percentage is among the league’s very best return.
2. Alisson (Liverpool)
The bread and butter of goalkeeping is stopping the ball going into the net. And in this regard, Alisson is supreme.
The brilliantly bearded Brazilian has been a calming presence at the back for Liverpool as they have pivoted to a side built on their defence. Alisson is big, strong and has absurd reflexes. A save percentage of 80.36% is a league-high and confirms Alisson’s excellence.
The Brazilian made a huge play at the end of last season with immense displays in the Champions League semi-final second-leg and the final itself, where he equalled the record number of saves made (8) and managed to keep a clean sheet and win in the process.
1. Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)
But when it comes to goalkeeping excellence in Europe, there’s only one man who needs to be considered.
Others may rise and fall, may occasionally challenge his spot but no one can truly step to Jan Oblak, the Slovenian stopper for Atletico Madrid.
Signed for a measly €16m, Oblak has delivered year-upon-year of quality play. He has 11 clean sheets in La Liga this season having conceded 21 goals, but even more impressive is that his save percentage is a frankly staggering 73.75%.
That is the latest in a long line of stats, most impressive of which is that since joining Atleti he has conceded just 115 goals in 180 La Liga games – keeping 99 clean sheets in the process. Yeah, you read that right. 115 goals conceded, 99 clean sheets kept.
Almost maintaining parity between goals conceded and clean sheets is a goddamn miracle, and Jan Oblak is a miraculous goalkeeper.