With so much discussion surrounding where the likes of David De Gea, Hugo Lloris and Petr Cech will end up this summer, it has sparked an interesting debate on who is the best in-between the posts. There is a current crop of elite goalkeepers in world football, and this has been evident both in last summer’s World Cup and in all competitions this past season. There are a few bright young stars who play with the assurance and confidence of a veteran, whilst there are a few elder statesmen who continue to amaze and are a commanding force on the pitch.
10. Diego Lopez
It was a thoroughly disappointing season for A.C. Milan this campaign, but one bright spark has been the play of Diego Lopez. Although he missed almost a month, Lopez has been by far the best player for Milan this season. If it were not for his shot stopping ability, then things could have been a lot bleaker for Milan this season. Fans will hope that the team can now strengthen in the outfield whilst retaining the services of such a top keeper. Lopez arrived at A.C. Milan from Real Madrid in 2014, and during his time at the Spanish club he managed the rare feat of dislodging Iker Casillas from the starting spot. The 33-year old’s career also started at Real Madrid, but he spent a defining period of his career at Villarreal where he established his reputation as one of the top keepers around the world.
9. Samir Handanovic
Much like rivals A.C. Milan, it has ultimately been a disappointing campaign for Inter who finished eigth in Serie A. Samir Handanovic was his usual impressive self however, and remains one of the top goalkeepers in Europe. Due to the fact that Inter will not be playing Champions League football and Handanovic is over 30, it is likely that he will now look to pave a move away from the Italian giants. Handanovic is a commanding presence in the box, he has great reflexes, and has an astonishing penalty record which also makes him a fan favorite. In the 2010-11 season at Udinese, Handanovic saved six penalties which equaled a 62-year old Serie A record. In 2014, Handanovic saved a remarkable six penalties in a row! This ability makes him a huge asset. Handanovic has also been a standout performer for Slovenia and is their most capped goalkeeper.
8. Marc-Andre ter Stegen
German keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen may have only had his opportunity to shine for Barcelona in the Copa del Rey and the Champions League this season, but he certainly took these opportunities well. Claudio Bravo held down the starting league spot (more on him later), meaning ter Stegen made just 21 appearances for Barca. But his ability in goal helped Barca to trophies in both of these tournaments. They also won the league, of course, for a famous treble. The 23-year old was particularly impressive in the Champions League, Europe’s biggest competition, showing great concentration, poise, distribution, and shot stopping ability throughout. This would see him be named to the UEFA Champions League Team of the Season and draw praise from Messi and Iniesta. The future looks very bright for ter Stegen. But like all players, he will want first team football and displacing Claudio Bravo will be no easy feat.
7. Petr Cech
The Blues will have been sad to see club legend Petr Cech move on this summer, as the 6’5″ Czech keeper is sixth on their all-time appearances list, helped them to 13 trophies since joining in 2004, won the Golden Gloves three times, and holds dozens of Premier League records. They will be particularly sad to see him sold to rivals Arsenal, but Cech is still one of the best goalkeepers in the world and just wanted to being playing regular first team football. Cech lost his starting spot at Chelsea to the hugely impressive Thibaut Courtois and made just 16 appearances this season. That’s the trouble with having two world class goalkeepers in your ranks, as it impossible to keep them both happy. With Arsenal potentially challenging for the title next season, Chelsea could rue the day that they dealt a player of Cech’s caliber to their fierce London rivals.
6. Hugo Lloris
Whilst the amount of goals Tottenham concede may not reflect well on the French captain, Hugo Lloris is certainly one of the top keepers in the world. Spurs would have slipped much further down the Premier League table if it were not for the outstanding play of Lloris. Each week, Lloris gets to showcase his abilities thanks to a mistake prone back four. But Spurs have looked to strengthen in this area this summer and they hope this will be enough to retain the services of such a quality goalkeeper. Lloris possesses cat-like reflexes, can pull off acrobatic saves, is quick off his line, is excellent with the ball at his feet, and can lead from the back. No top keeper gets to prove their credentials more than Lloris, and Spurs will be desperate to keep hold of him this summer and push for Champions League next season.
5. Claudio Bravo
Whilst Marc-Andre ter Stegen was making a case to earn the starting league spot through his impressive cup displays, Claudio Bravo was also doing a fine job and rewarding Luis Enrique’s faith with some stellar performances. After joining the Catalan giants last summer, Bravo did not take long to win over the fans after setting a La Liga record for Barca of not conceding from the start of the season for a staggering 754 minutes. Bravo would play in all but the last game of the season in La Liga, and in 37 appearances Barca conceded just 19 goals. Bravo made 74 saves on their way to topping the league. This saw him named to the La Liga Team of the Season, along with three of Barca’s defenders. Bravo is Chile’s most capped player of all-time with 94 caps, and he was particularly impressive in last summer’s World Cup.
4. David De Gea
The goalkeeper that everyone has been discussing this summer. Whether David De Gea stays at Old Trafford or joins Real Madrid is the biggest current transfer saga. Should he leave, it could set off a chain reaction of transfers. But United will want to retain the talented young Spaniard’s services, as he bailed them out time and time again this season. It is perhaps thanks to De Gea that United will be playing Champions League football next season. He had several outstanding performances this season and a number of breathtaking stops, which is what has attracted so much attention. Real Madrid usually get what they want when it comes to top talent. Regardless of which backline he will be commanding next season, De Gea will soon succeed Iker Casillas as Spain’s No. 1 keeper and he looks set to hold this position down for a long time.
3. Thibaut Courtois
It takes a player of remarkable talent to displace Petr Cech at Chelsea, and that is what 23-year old Thibaut Courtois has managed since returning from a loan at Atletico Madrid last summer. Courtois is an incredible talent and plays with the confidence and assurance of a keeper ten years his senior. He is also an excellent shot stopper and distributor. Playing behind perhaps the best back four in Europe certainly helps, but Courtois kept 15 clean sheets in 39 games and conceded just 35 goals this campaign. His presence in goal helped Chelsea to top the Premier League table this season. Having firmly established his presence in the starting 11 has seen Petr Cech move on to Arsenal in search of first team football. With Courtois and such a solid backline (along with Jose Mourinho’s astute tactics), Chelsea will once again be an elite defensive team next season.
2. Gianluigi Buffon
Gianluigi Buffon continues to amaze at 37-years old, and his brilliance in between the posts guided Juventus to the Champions League final (where he kept them in the game during a losing effort) and helped them to claim yet another Serie A title. Many consider Buffon to be the greatest keeper of all-time, and it is hard to dispute them when you look at his records and honors. Buffon has been named the Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year a record nine times, is the only goalkeeper to win UEFA Footballer of the Year, was runner up for the 2006 Ballon d’Or, and is the most capped player for the Italian national side. Buffon is also the most expensive goalkeeper of all-time, costing Juventus £32.6 million from Parma in 2001. The Italian legend excels in every area, and the crafty veteran is not quite ready to make way for the new generation just yet.
1. Manuel Neuer
Some consider Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer to be the greatest goalkeeper of all-time. This may not be true yet, but it could be soon enough, as he still has many years ahead of him at just 29-years old. His “sweeper-keeper” style, where he is quick off his line and confident with the ball at his feet, has somewhat revolutionized the position but he is also an elite shot stopper. His has lightning quick reactions and can command his area with the best of them. His presence in goal helped Germany to win the 2014 World Cup, where he also picked up the Golden Glove. He has won German Footballer of the Year and World’s Best Goalkeeper twice, along with a third place finish in the 2014 FIFA Ballon d’Or voting (behind two guys you probably know — Messi and Ronaldo). This season he helped Bayern to their third straight league title and remains the top goalkeeper in world football.