Top 10 goalkeepers in world football
There is little doubt the level of goalkeeping in world football is at an all-time high. Last summer’s World Cup highlighted just how many quality goalkeepers are currently in today’s game, with the likes of Manuel Neuer, Tim Howard and Thibaut Courtois often taking the plaudits ahead of the incredible striking talent at the tournament in Brazil. The commencement of the European football season has seen many of those keepers continue their fine form from the summer into their club campaigns, and it’s hard to think of period in history when the game has boasted such a rich vein of talent in the goalkeeping department.
With the end of 2014 drawing to a close, let’s have a closer look at those number ones who have impressed us the most this year.
The undoubted number-one goalkeeper in the world at the moment has to be Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer. The 28-year-old has been one of the most formidable stoppers in the game since bursting on the scene for Schalke in 2006. After establishing himself as the number-one at the Veltins-Arena, it wasn’t long before Neuer made the step up into the Germany team. A big-money move to Bayern Munich came in 2011, and the keeper has played a massive part in the club’s recent dominance of the Bundesliga and continued presence in the latter rounds of the Champions League. If there had been any doubt as to just how good Neuer is, the keeper’s sensational performances for Germany on their way to the World Cup title in the summer proved he is currently the best in the game.
After signing for Chelsea in 2011, the Premier League club took three years to hand the Thibaut Courtois his debut. Three years on loan in Spain with Atletico Madrid saw Courtois establish himself as one of the most exciting young goalkeepers in the world, playing a key role in the club shocking many bookies such as Betfair by winning the La Liga title. A number of eye-catching performances at the World Cup for Belgium were enough to convince Jose Mourinho to drop long-time number-one Petr Cech and hand the 22-year-old the responsibility of being his first choice. With Chelsea romping away from the competition in the race for the Premier League title, that decision has so far been more than justified as Courtois continues to prove his world-class credentials.
At the grand old age of 36, Gianluigi Buffon might be coming to the end of his career but the Italian stalwart is still ranked as one of the best goalkeepers in the world. With over 400 appearances for Juventus and 145 caps for Italy, Buffon has been at the top of his profession for longer than any other keeper at the highest level of the game. While he couldn’t do anything to stop Italy from failing to qualify from their group at the World Cup in Brazil, Buffon has started this season in the same form as he finished the last one and shows little sign of slowing down.
Long-time Slovenian number-one Samir Handanovic made his name at Udinese before being signed by Inter Milan in 2012. While it hasn’t been the greatest couple of years for the Serie A side, Handanovic has continued to prove himself as one of the league’s finest goalkeepers. The 2010 World Cup remains the only major international tournament in which Handanovic has appeared and the Slovenia stopper will be desperately hoping he can help his country reach the European Championships in 2016. As far as his club career, Inter could find it hard to hang onto Handanovic if they continue to struggle in mid-table and fail to challenge for honours.
While Tottenham Hotspur haven’t enjoyed the greatest couple of years, Hugo Lloris has enhanced his reputation as one of the most reliable goalkeepers in European football. During his time with Lyon, Lloris was instrumental to the club’s dominance of Ligue 1 and Tottenham were just one of a host of clubs in the race to sign the keeper after it became clear he wouldn’t sign a new contract in France. A reported fee of £12 million was enough to secure Lloris’ services from Lyon, a price which looks like an absolute bargain two years later. With Spurs currently struggling to secure a return to the Champions League, rumours have already begun circulating linking Lloris with a move away from White Hart Lane next summer.
6.David de Gea
David de Gea initially made his name in La Liga with Atletico Madrid before making a big-money move to the Premier League with Manchester United. While his start to life in England wasn’t easy, this season has showed a goalkeeper who matured both mentally and physically, not to mention a stopper capable of pulling off match-winning saves in a season when his team desperately need match-winning saves. De Gea’s performances in the Premier League, combined with Iker Casilles’ disappointing run of form for both club and country, have seen the Manchester United stopper handed the Spain number-one jersey in recent games.
If Salvatore Sirigu had been around at a different time, the Paris Saint-Germain stopper would have had a lot more Italy caps than the 10 he currently boasts. Gianluigi Buffon’s presence has seen Sirigu forced to spend much of his international career providing back-up, although the former Palermo number-one has appeared at both Euro 2012 and the 2014 World Cup. When Buffon finally bids farewell to the game, the Italian team will certainly be in very good hands and Sirigu will finally be able to test himself on the international stage on a long-term basis.
Despite a number of sticky patches over the past couple of seasons, there aren’t many clubs in world football who wouldn’t like to have Joe Hart as their number-one. The Manchester City and England goalie has played a major part in the Premier League club’s recent success and the 27-year old still has a couple of years before he really reaches his peak. As City look to win their third title in four years, they will need another big season from their goalkeeper during the remainder of this campaign.
If you hadn’t heard of Guillermo Ochoa before this summer’s World Cup, you definitely knew the name after the Mexico number-one’s performances in Brazil. Those displays earned the keeper a move to La Liga side Malaga following the tournament, only for the World Cup hero to find himself restricted to a role as back-up to first choice Carlos Kameni. With the likes of Liverpool rumoured to be interested in signing the Mexican in January, Ochoa could well be on his way to England after just six months at Malaga as the Reds look to add competition for places with Simon Mignolet.
While Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani made most of the headlines for Uruguay at the summer’s World Cup, a lot of the South American’s success was built on the solid foundations provided by Fernando Muslera at the back. After making his name in Italy with Lazio, Muslera joined Galatasaray in 2011 and has gone on to make over 100 appearances for the Turkish giants. A number of clubs have been linked with a move for the 28-year-old in January, and a move to one of Europe’s major leagues would be justification for a player who may have outgrown his current club.
Sources: teamtalk.com / liverpoolecho.co.uk / soccerfame.com / skysports.com