They are the last line of defense. But they also get unfairly criticized for not correcting the mistakes of others. It is the one position on the field where every error is a disaster – but where a last-ditch save can turn them into a hero. Not everyone is cut out to be a keeper, that’s for sure.
The best betting sites will tend to go with goal-scoring strikers or creative midfielders when it comes to MVPs and best player awards. But a good keeper can be the real difference between a win and a loss. Here are five of the very best in the world right now.
Mike Maignan, Milan
It is probably a slight oversimplification to point to Milan’s struggles to retain its Scudetto and France’s inability to win back-to-back World Cups as a result of Mike Maignan’s injury last year. But there is definitely an argument to be made. The French keeper had been outstanding in the years before a calf muscle injury ruled him out for months on end last year.
Yet another young player that PSG let go before he hit his stride, Maignan helped Lille win Ligue 1 in 2021, keeping 21 clean sheets in the championship season. That earned him a big-money move to Milan where he immediately helped the Rossoneri win a first league title in 11 years. Expect further success.
Ederson, Manchester City
Keepers are expected to be ball players these days – on top of all their other talents. But few caress the ball quite like Manchester City’s Ederson. He will leave your heart in your mouth as he deftly turns an onrushing striker – and then lays on a defense-splitting pass for his own forwards to score.
Ederson was noticed early and made his way to Benfica in Portugal when he was just 16. He played for a few smaller teams before finally returning to the Lisbon giant – and then caught the eye of Manchester City. He has now won four league titles in England and is in the process of making the Brazil number one shirt his own.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Barcelona
When it comes to Barcelona, it is not very often that the goalkeeper gets the plaudits. Team after team at the Camp Nou has produced midfielders and goal scorers that grab all the headlines. But since moving to Catalunya in 2017, it is Ter Stegen that is seen as an irreplaceable member of the side.
He had already made over 100 appearances for his hometown team, Borussia Monchengladbach, before joining Barca. He won the treble in his first season in Spain and is now considered one of the best keepers in the world. He also now has the chance to take Manuel Neuer’s place in the Germany team.
Gianluigi Donnarumma, Paris Saint-Germain
It is incredible to think that, for some, Donnarumma’s inclusion here could be a controversial move. He made his debut for Milan when he was just 16 and helped the club reach the Champions League after an eight-year absence. He also became the youngest keeper ever to play for Italy, making his debut at just 17 years and 189 days.
But his critics would argue that all the adulation went to his head – and that the move to Paris Saint-Germain in 2021 was a mistake. Whether that is the case or not, Donnarumma is undoubtedly a remarkable keeper who can still become the best in the world. It is sometimes easy to forget that he is still only 24.
Thibaut Courtois, Real Madrid
Our final keeper somehow manages to look even bigger than his 6ft 7in frame and must be a nightmare for opponents getting ready to take a penalty kick. He was one of the few in the Belgium team that could argue that he played well at World Cup 2022 – and continues to pick up trophies at Real Madrid.
He initially came through the ranks at Genk in Belgium, but was snapped up by Chelsea when he was just 19. He was immediately loaned to Atletico Madrid where he made a name for himself before returning to the EPL. He has now been playing back in La Liga for Real Madrid and has a personal trophy haul of five league titles, Champions League and Europa League medals, as well as countless other individual awards.