There’s no pleasing everyone. And coming up with a framework of how to judge who’s better than who is essentially impossible – especially when it comes to goalkeepers, who are the focus of the attention here.
Why in the world are we doing this then? Well, we’ve already ranked full-backs to varying degrees of success, criticism and scorn, and decided today was the exact right time to continue the series. Given all the chat about David de Gea being the best goalkeeper in the world (he’s not, sorry Ole), there’s no better time.
How in the world did we do this? Well, 90min runs in 11 different languages, so we’ve utilised all the resources and asked a lot of people to say if it’s completely s
Anyway, enough with our justifications. Here are the top 25 goalkeepers in the world.
No arguments allowed.
25) Kepa Arrizabalaga
Notorious football fraud Chris Deeley once wrote Kepa Arrizabalaga Is Absolutely Fine Please Stop Talking About His Transfer Fee, and just over a year post-publish date, his piece has proven to be Absolutely Wrong and Not at All Fine. Kepa has turned out to be a colossal overspend, even in the modern transfer market.
He’s had such a difficult time that he’s now on Chelsea’s bench, lower in the pecking order than Manchester City’s former number two goalkeeper, who just so happens to be 38 years old.
A neat triple save against Liverpool in the FA Cup showed he’s still got something and it’s not too late for the Spaniard to redeem himself. However, for now, he barely breaks into the top 25.
24) Mike Maignan
Tipped as Hugo Lloris’ long term successor for France, Mike Maignan – although he sounds like a singer from a country and western wedding band – is Lille’s best player by some distance. They simply would not have finished second in Ligue 1 without him last season.
The interest the 24-year-old is attracting from Premier League sides such as Chelsea will therefore be giving Les Dogues boss Christophe Galtier more than a few sleepless nights.
23) Thomas Strakosha
Ciro Immobile’s ludicrous scoring antics may be stealing the headlines, but equally vital to Lazio’s shock Serie A title challenge has been the safe hands of
22) Peter Gulacsi
He may be one of the oldest looking 29-year-old of all time but there’s no doubting Peter Gulacsi is pretty good at this whole goalkeeping thing.
His footballing journey is not the most conventional. After being signed by Liverpool in 2008, the Hungarian spent time on loan at Hereford United a year later.
Wonder if he ever thought he’d be playing in the Champions League while standing in the freezing cold at Edgar Street. Quite the story that.
21) Unai Simon
Athletic Club have not been a team for the neutral this campaign. They are masters of the 1-0 win as Barcelona found out in the Copa del Rey semi-finals back in February.
An indispensable piece in Bilbao’s joyless but effective footballing machine is Unai Simon who has stepped seamlessly into Kepa’s jersey – presumably after a few adjustments to make the sleeves longer…
20) Jasper Cillessen
He may have been just a cup keeper at Barcelona but Jasper Cillessen has found a new lease of life since signing for Valencia in the summer, proving he was far too good to be left warming various benches around Spain.
It’s not been a vintage campaign for Los Ches so far, but it would have been a whole lot worse had Cillessen not been there to bail them out on multiple occasions.
The 30-year-old remains Netherlands number one heading into this summer’s European Championships.
19) Steve Mandanda
Human memory is a funny old thing. For instance, I can vividly picture all manner of moments from my past. My first day at infant school, a seagull crapping on my arm when I was out on a date in my teens and what I had for breakfast the day Leicester won the Premier League. It was Weetabix by the way.
Everyone has blind spots though. Is it just me who forgot Steve Mandanda played for Crystal Palace a while back? It is? Damn.
Good thing the Frenchman has elbowed his way back into my mind with a string of quality performances for Marseille this season.
18) Lukas Hradecky
He’s big and he loves saving shots. Introducing Bayer Leverkusen stopper Lukas Hradecky – the best Finnish keeper since Antti Niemi.
Cutting his teeth at Eintracht Frankfurt, Hradecky won Bundesliga Goalkeeper of the Year at the end of the 2017/2018 season. This earned him a move to Leverkusen where he has continued to impress ever since.
17) Gianluigi Donnarumma
Amid all of the chaos at Milan in recent seasons, one thing that has never been in doubt is the ability of Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Despite only just being old enough to have a pint in the United States, the 21-year-old has made just shy of 200 appearances for the Rossoneri. A client of Mino Raiola, Donnarumma’s loyalty to his boyhood club is set to be seriously tested over the next several transfer windows.
16) Yann Sommer
Borussia Mönchengladbach are performing miracles in the Bundesliga this season. Despite their modest budget, Gladbach are well in the title race and this is largely due to their resolute defending.
When teams finally do break through their stoic resistance, it also helps to have a keeper as talented as Yann Sommer – widely regarded as the BuLi’s best (apart from the obvious one) – between the sticks.
15) Kasper Schmeichel
Stepping up as captain in the absence of Wes Morgan has had no negative effect on Kasper Schmeichel’s performances for Leicester this season.
The Denmark international has seen it all during his near decade long stint at the King Power Stadium and remains a key cog in Brendan Rodgers’ footballing revolution and one of the Premier League’s most reliable.
14) Andre Onana
Andre Onana is only 23, has already played in a Champions League semi final and his name fits perfectly to the tune of What’s My Name by Rihanna. What’s not to love?
Like many of his Ajax peers, it is a question of when not if he will depart Amsterdam, with a string of top European clubs – including Chelsea and former side Barcelona – supposedly interested.
13) Rui Patricio
With the scores level in the Euro 2016 final, Dimitri Payet floated a pass to Antoine Griezmann. The then-Atletico Madrid man met it with his head, causing the ball to loop up and seemingly over a stricken Rui Patricio in the Portuguese goal.
Then, in a blink of an eye, Patricio pivoted back and flung out a hand to tip it over the bar in the nick of time.
The moment has been immortalised by a bronze statue erected in his hometown and though 90min cannot quite offer his the same honour, we hope he is still happy with a place at number 13 on our list.
12) Bernd Leno
It must be frustrating being Bernd Leno.
No matter how many finger tip saves he makes, no matter how many shots he smothers, the German lives in constant fear of his centre-backs making a brainless error to cost him his clean sheet.
Our heart goes out to you mate.
11) Hugo Lloris
They say you never know what you had until it’s gone, and this has never been more apt than in the case of Tottenham and Hugo Lloris this season.
After the Frenchman suffered a bad injury back in October, Spurs were forced to rely on Paulo Gazzaniga. It was not a complete disaster, but a series a fairly high profile errors will have done a lot to increase Lloris’ standing in the eyes of the club’s supporters.
Oh, he’s also a World Cup winner, don’t you forget.
10) Keylor Navas
Obscure footballing nations often produce talented goalkeepers and Costan Rican stopper Keylor Navas is a case in point.
After being somewhat unfairly replaced at Real Madrid by Thibaut Courtois for not being quite Galactico enough, Keylor Navas has established himself as Paris Saint-Germain number one this season. He’s got a much nicer kit than Courtois as well. We bet the Belgian’s proper jealous.
9) David de Gea
Due to the mistakes that have begun to creep into his game, there has been some discussion about David de Gea’s Manchester United future of late.
These questions are legitimate but if history is anything to go by, the Spaniard will revel in proving his doubters wrong.
8) Samir Handanovic
He may be 35 but Inter legend Samir Handanovic is showing few signs of letting up.
The Nerazzurri are finally back in a title race this season and it would be a fitting climax to the Slovenian’s (so far) trophyless career if he could clinch a Scudetto. Make it happen please.
7) Manuel Neuer
Manuel Neuer played a big role in the modern reinvention of the goalkeeping position and he remains one of the very best sweeper-keepers in the business today.
Will he start for Germany at the Euros or will Marc Andre ter Stegen take his place on the throne? We don’t know, but we cannot wait to find out.
6) Thibaut Courtois
After a shaky first season at Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois has been in exemplary form of late.
Los Blancos may have lacked some pizzazz going forward this campaign, but at the back there has been few complaints – partly due to Courtois’ really long limbs and good goalkeeping ability.
No team has conceded fewer in La Liga than Big Thibaut’s Madrid.
5) Wojciech Szczesny
Stepping into the gloves of Gianluigi Buffon was never going to be easy but Wojciech Szczesny has completed the transition convincingly.
The Polish stopper was excellent for Roma after departing Arsenal in 2015 and he has continued to impress in Turin. Juventus will need him in top form as well, with the Serie A title race continuing to hot up.
When Pep Guardiola made a cheeky remark about Ederson being the best penalty taker at Manchester City everyone believed him – such is the technical ability of the Brazilian stopper.
Wouldn’t it be great to see him given a run out up front, David James style? He’d probably score a brace.
Better still, stick him centre-midfield for Stockport County. Non-League assists records would topple like dominoes.
3) Jan Oblak
There are times watching four-time Zamora Trophy winner Jan Oblak when you might genuinely believe that he has the power to attract the ball towards his hands. It’s like his gloves have their own gravitational pull.
Probably the best shot shopper in the world and the second Slovenian in our top 10, the Oblaktopus is a perfect fit for Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid where distribution is not the most sought after quality.
2) Alisson Becker
When Liverpool spent nearly £70m on Alisson back in 2018, social media was awash with jibes from rival fans questioning the size of the fee.
They’re probably not laughing now…
The Brazilian has proved to be a game-changing upgrade to Loris Karius, straddling the attributes of both a sweeper-keeper and traditional stopper perfectly. Winning three golden glove awards in 2019 (Premier League, Champions League, Copa America), the guitar-playing, swimming-pool-baptising heartthrob is also the first-ever winner of the Yashin Trophy.
Razor sharp reflexes, wrists like steel, distribution like Andrea Pirlo and a really cool name.
These are just a few of the things that make Marc-Andre ter Stegen the best goalkeeper in the world.
Barcelona are in dire need of a rebuild but can take solace in the fact that goalkeeper is one position that does not need to be touched. Not for a good while anyway.
Also, as much as Manuel Neuer has done for German football, if Ter Stegen does not start for Die Mannschaft in the summer it would be an absolute travesty.