Goalkeepers are an important part of any side with the very best often making the difference at the highest level, the modern game requiring number ones to be both the start of attacks and the last line of defence.
It can be a thankless task to be an elite-level goalkeeper with performances heavily scrutinised, but European football is currently home to some superb shot-stoppers, each proving a reliable presence for their respective sides.
We’ve decided to pick out five of the best in European football right now, ranking our five goalkeepers based on a combination of both ability and current form:
5. Ederson (Manchester City)
The changing role of the goalkeeper has brought new styles into the modern game and Ederson is a player who has transformed perceptions of the position, the Brazilian amongst the best long-range passers in the Premier League and a vital part of Manchester City‘s build-up play.
Ederson’s arrival into English football coincided with a period of huge success for the Etihad outfit, winning back-to-back league titles in 2018 and 2019, before winning a maiden Premier League Golden Glove despite a disappointing campaign for the side last term.
Boosted by an improved defence ahead of him this season, no goalkeeper has kept more clean sheets than the 27-year-old this season, whilst his save percentage of 78.3% is the second-highest figure in the division.
Ederson’s reliability when it comes to shot-stopping, alongside an ability to break opposition lines with pinpoint passes into either midfield or the final third, mark the former Benfica man as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe.
Given the recent struggles of Alisson at Liverpool, Ederson now has a chance to stake his claim as the Premier League’s best and oust his compatriot for the position of Brazil’s number one.
4. Keylor Navas (Paris Saint-Germain)
Perhaps an under-appreciated goalkeeper amongst Europe’s elite, Keylor Navas continues to shine for Paris Saint-Germain following a period of glittering success at Real Madrid.
The Costa Rica international formed part of the side that won three consecutive Champions League titles between 2016 and 2018, though was allowed to leave the following season as the Spanish side sought a marquee number one.
PSG moved quickly to sign the experienced shot-stopper and it has proven a shrewd investment, the 34-year-old impressing in helping the Parisians to four trophies and a maiden Champions League final during his debut campaign.
Navas boasts the best save percentage in Ligue 1 this season and the joint-lowest goals against per 90 minutes alongside Lille’s Mike Maignan, whilst he has impressed on the European stage once more and produced a masterclass of a performance as PSG eliminated Barcelona in the Champions League’s last 16.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side will need more performances of that calibre if they are to reach a second successive final this season, the club’s owners having made no secret of their desire to win club football’s biggest prize.
3. Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)
The marquee name signed to replace the aforementioned Navas at Real Madrid, the career of Courtois at the Bernabeu initially got off to an inauspicious start.
Courtois struggled following his high-profile arrival from Chelsea, though the Belgium international has since flourished to become an undisputed key figure in Zinedine Zidane’s plans.
The 28-year-old conceded just 25 goals as Los Blancos were crowned Spanish champions last season, winning the Zamora Trophy for the lowest goals-conceded-to-game ratio amongst the division’s goalkeepers.
Courtois currently ranks third for clean sheets and third for save percentage in La Liga this season, the goalkeeper amongst the few players who seemed assured of their place as Real Madrid prepare for a rebuild of their project this summer.
There are few goalkeepers in European football with such a wealth of experience and success alongside the scope for further improvement, with the best years of Courtois’ career perhaps still yet to come.
2. Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)
Bayern Munich may be struggling for clean sheets at present, but Manuel Neuer remains one of the most reliable goalkeepers in the game and one of the greatest to have ever adorned the gloves.
The Germany international was back to his domineering best as Bayern secured a historic treble last season, starring during the club’s imperious Champions League campaign with a tournament-leading six clean sheets.
Neuer was excellent in the final win over Paris Saint-Germain and his unique goalkeeping style remains pivotal to Bayern’s hopes of success, the 34-year-old mixing a hulking frame with an unerring confidence in possession.
Neuer has been widely credited with transforming the game with his aggressive and front-footed style of goalkeeping, winning almost every major honour possible during a glittering career at the highest level that has shown few signs of slowing.
There have been many who have attempted to harness Neuer’s barrier-breaking style, but there have been none to do so with such success.
1. Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)
Jan Oblak’s incredible consistency continues to amaze as the last line of the Atletico Madrid defence, the Slovenian goalkeeper having set all forms of records tumbling since arriving in the Spanish capital almost seven years ago.
Diego Simeone has previously described the 28-year-old as the ‘Messi of goalkeepers’ and with good reason, his achievements including winning La Liga’s Best Goalkeeper on a record four occasions.
Oblak currently leads Spanish football’s top tier for clean sheets this season with 13, whilst his 79.8% save percentage is the second best figure in the division behind only Sevilla’s Yassine Bounou.
Oblak’s performances have helped Atletico to the top of the table – conceding just 18 goals in 27 fixtures – as they seek a first league title since 2013/14, and only a third in the past four decades.
Atletico’s defensive strength is well documented, but even on occasional breaches opposition sides are met with a goalkeeper who often produces implausible moments of athleticism and agility.
See also – Champions League Team of the Week