Goalkeeper, the position everyone wants to try once as a kid, but then go running away from once they play it. It takes a special type of lunatic to want to play goalkeeper past the age of twelve, here are the ten best goalkeeping lunatics in football right now:
10- Thibaut Courtois – 26- Real Madrid and Belgium
“The Snake” as he is known in the Chelsea area of London, hasn’t been in the best of form since his big money move to Los Blancos over the summer. Courtois is currently the reigning FIFA World Goalkeeper of the Year (somehow, we don’t really know, assuming they only watched the World Cup.) At 6’7, there is no doubt that he is one of the world’s best shot stoppers. The reigning Golden Glove winner at the World Cup and former winner of the Premier League Golden Glove, there really is no question as for why Real Madrid moved for Courtois.
9- Gianluigi Buffon – 40- Paris Saint-Germain and Italy
It pains me writing, “Paris Saint-Germain” next to Buffon’s name. The Juventus legend called it quits with the Old Lady this summer, moving to the Parisians in a move that shocked many (including myself) thinking that he would retire instead of play for another club. The 2006 World Cup winner is now 40 years old, but let’s be honest. He could be seventy years old and would still be cracking this top ten. He is like a fine wine, only gets better with age.
8- Hugo Lloris – 32 – Tottenham Hotspur and France
Lloris freshly coming off lifting the World Cup, comes in our list at number 8. Since arriving at Tottenham in 2012, Lloris has been the one constant in a Tottenham team that was going through turmoil at the turn of the decade, going as low to sign Clint Dempsey (yes, you read that right.) Tottenham is a historically cheap team, and Lloris was a very cheap purchase. But it has been a phenomenally cheap purchase for Tottenham, getting far more on their investment than they imagined. The World Cup winner made one of the worst mistakes you will ever see, trying to poke the ball around an oncoming Mario Mandzukic (albeit they were up 4-1 at this point and were playing megs only the rest of the game) and gifted a goal to the Croatians to give them a glimmer of hope. All in all, you would much rather have Lloris behind you in goal than have to go against him.
7- Samir Handanovic – 34 – Inter Milan and Slovenia
The Slovenian shot stopper has been one of the world’s most underrated goalkeepers for quite some time. Excellent with his feet and commanding in the air, Handanovic has everything that you would want in the modern day goalkeeper. He is lauded as one of the world’s best in one on one situations, stopping seemingly everything when in a one on one situation. He single handily won Inter at least ten points last season with the world class saves he would make. He isn’t getting any younger, but that doesn’t mean that his best days aren’t still ahead of him.
6- Keylor Navas – 32 – Real Madrid and Costa Rica
Another entry from Real Madrid, Navas comes off of winning his unprecedented third consecutive Champions League with Los Blancos. How did they reward Navas? By buying Thibaut Courtois and benching him. Navas is undoubtedly one of the world’s best goalkeepers, how he is sitting on the bench at Real Madrid is beyond anyone’s comprehension. Navas has bailed out Real Madrid on numerous occasions, more recently against Bayern Munich in the second leg of the UCL semifinals last season, making three world class saves against the Bavarians to send Real through to the final where they would go on to beat Liverpool to win their 13th UCL crown. Keylor is too loyal to Real, and needs to leave for his own sake.
5- Ederson – 25 – Manchester City and Brazil
Ederson could honestly start in center mid for most clubs in world football at the moment with his undeniable talent on the ball. Pep Guardiola finally after years of searching has found his goalkeeper to play the “tiki taka” style. Ederson, being the sweeper keeper he is, is also error prone at times, but his pros more than outweigh his cons. He is without a shadow of a doubt, the best distributing goalkeeper the game has ever seen. The scary thing for the rest of the EPL is that he is only twenty five, and will get better the longer he plays in Pep’s system.
4- Manuel Neuer – 32 – Bayern Munich and Germany
The Bavarian shot stopper makes our list in at number four, coming in after an embarrassing campaign for Germany at the World Cup this past summer. Neuer has suffered two serious injuries to his left foot, breaking his metatarsals in April of 2017, coming back in August, and breaking the same one again in September of ’17. Neuer may be well and truly past his peak, but his sheer athleticism and sweeper keeping allows for the Bayern defenders to play a more aggressive style with the ball at their feet, playing out the back instead of, “when in doubt clear it out.” A true maverick in goalkeeping, Neuer remains one of the world’s best with his aerial command in his box and natural shot stopping ability.
3- Marc-Andre Ter Stegen – 26 – FC Barcelona and Germany
Controversially., Manuel Neuer started for the Germans at the World Cup over Ter Stegen, a position that many felt that Ter Stegen earned over the months leading up to the finals. Ter Stegen moved to Barcelona in 2014 from Borussia Mochengladbach. Originally brought in to be the backup to Victor Valdes and Claudio Bravo, Ter Stegen has found himself in the conversation as the world’s best after consistent performances for Barcelona and Germany. The Champions League winner’s ability on the ball remains his strongest attribute, seemingly not missing a pass when he is forced to play the ball into tight spaces under pressure. Being another young goalkeeper, his best days also are yet to come.
2- Jan Oblak – 26 – Atletico Madrid and Slovenia
I don’t know what is in the water in Slovenia, but whatever is, it certainly helps breed world class goalkeepers. Oblak comes into our list at number two barely missing our top spot. The Slovenian at one point last year, had more clean sheets in his time at Atletico than goals conceded (mind you, he has been at Atletico for FIVE YEARS.) Seemingly unbeatable in goal and in one on one situations, Oblak is a goalkeeper any forward would dread facing up against. Made the save(s) of the season in last year’s Champions League, making an unthinkable triple save against Bayern Leverkusen in the group stages. As long as the Atleti back 4 stay together and don’t go breaking the band up, Oblak will continue to keep clean sheets. Also being only 26, it is no doubt that he will one day reign as the world’s best.
1- David De Gea – 28 – Manchester United and Spain
There is no debating this one, the world’s best goalkeeper is David De Gea. Shaky for Spain at the world cup, the reigning EPL Golden Glove winner has more than bounced back for Manchester United this season. Although not as many clean sheets as he would have wanted at this point of the season, De Gea is coming off an eleven save performance against Tottenham this past weekend. Those eleven saves all came in one half, including two astonishing saves with his feet to keep Tottenham at bay. De Gea may not have the trophy cabinet like some of the goalkeepers after him on this list, but what they don’t have is his natural ability. He saves certain goals with his feet that no other goalkeeper would reach with his hands, he reads one on one situations like a book, his reflexes are faster than a cat. He has kept Manchester United a relevant team while they have been going through their transition period. With Schmeichel and Van Der Sar before him, De Gea joins the lineage of world class goalkeepers to have played for Man United. While watching a United game a few months back with my goalie coach, he told me, “enjoy watching him, you will never see another one like him.” Only being 28, he has many years left in his peak. And I would bet by the end of his career, he will be the best goalkeeper the game will ever see.