Football is one of the world’s most popular sports. Each player on the squad has their purpose to fulfil on the pitch to help their team to victory. Over time, each position has evolved as different playing styles and personalities continue to emerge which, ultimately, creates more excitement for the game.
Being the first-choice goalkeeper and wearing the number 1 on the back of the shirt is arguably one of the most important positions in the game of football. Goalies (or keepers) are the last line of defence between the net and the opposing team. The best in the world are known for their focus, acrobatic skill, and commanding presence on the pitch and in the box. For example, Manuel Neuer, currently plays for Bundesliga side Bayern Munich who have just claimed European glory and are tipped by Oddschecker to continue that success next season. His form has been near impeccable and is regarded as one of the best sweeper-keepers in the world. In fact, many would consider him the best in his position. So with that in mind, here’s a look at his competition for the top spot of best keeper in 2020.
It seems difficult to believe that the Brazilian was the reserve goalkeeper to Wojciech Szczesny at Roma as recently as 2016-17, only playing in the cup compeitions.
Since then, he has blossomed and is now undisputably one of the best goalkeepers in world football, with a medal haul befitting of such a star. Wearing number 13 in his first season with Liverpool, 2018-19, he helped the club to win the Champions League and, having switched to 1 for 2019-20, he was a key part in the Reds ending a 30-year wait for a league title.
David de Gea
Spanish national David de Gea currently plays for the Premier League team Manchester United. He spent his early years with Atlético Madrid, before being picked up by the Red Devils in 2011 and blossoming into one of the world’s best keepers.
David De Gea makes regular appearances for the Spanish national team and his ability in front of goal has earned him multiple awards and accolades. He was received the Premier League Golden Glove award in 2018 and has won the Manchester United Players’ Player of the Year award three times.
While his form has dipped in recent times, he will want to show that class is permanent.
One of the greatest Italian keepers to play the game, Gianluigi Buffon is a legend that has awards spilling out of the trophy cabinet. He started his career with the youth squad in Parma, after showing his drive and consistency in goal, Juventus signed him to the club in 2001. Since joining Juventus, Buffon has only spent one season away from the club (PSG) before returning and continuing his epic run of form.
Buffon has been the staple keeper for the Italian national side and has been named the Goalkeeper of the Year in Serie A twelve times, received Best European Keeper three times till now, and was inducted into the Juventus Greatest XI of all time in 2017; solidifying himself internationally as one of the greatest of all time. Interestingly, he was also one of the players to wear the strangest squad numbers.
With Wojciech Szczesny having inherited number 1 when Buffon joined PSG, the veteran returned to number 77 on his return to Turin. Though he is no longer first-choice, he is one of the best back-ups in world football.
The Bayern Munich number 1 has ultimately redefined the goalkeeper position. Making more of an emphasis on being a sweeper keeper, Neuer’s aggressive play style has driven his rise of his stock within his club, but also the national team where he has been the number 1 keeper for the last decade; even boasting a 86.2% save rate and victory in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Neuer has rarely made a misstep in his career, stringing together great runs of form that has twice earned him the title of Best Player in Germany. He has also been named to the FIFA World Cup Dream Team and the All-Star Team back in 2014. Neuer is sure to go down as one of the greatest and most imposing of keepers to play the game.