The game of football has been evolving continuously over the years. This evolution of the game brings changes to the role of positions as well as tactical changes. The role of goalkeepers has also been changing as more and more teams try to use the keeper as an outfield player.
For the men between the sticks, keeping the ball out of the net as well as being the first to start an attack and the last line of defense has become very important.
So let’s take a look at the 10 best goalkeepers who are excellent between the sticks and also capable of contributing to getting forward.
10. David de Gea – Free Agent/Spain
David de Gea was born in Madrid, Spain, and started his youth journey in the youth team of Atletico Madrid. He was in the youth team from 2003 to 2008 when he was promoted to the Atletico Madrid B team.
After continuously performing well for the B team in the following season he was promoted to the first team.
De Gea in his time at Atletico became one of the most promising young goalkeepers. In his debut season itself, he became the number one between the sticks for Atletico. Moreover, De Gea in his first season won the UEFA Europa League.
The superb performances of De Gea in the 2010-11 season linked him with some of the biggest clubs in Europe. Throughout the season scouts from different clubs kept an eye on de Gea’s performance.
Impressed with his performance, Manchester United boss Sir Alex Furgeson himself came to watch his match. David de Gea in his time in LA Liga played 57 matches and won the 2009-10 UEFA Europa League and the 2010-11 UEFA Super Cup.
In 2011-12 David de Gea was signed by Manchester United to replace club legend Edwin Van der Sar. United paid British record fees of about $25 million. De Gea was a mainstay at United and performed exceptionally well, especially in his initial years.
He was selected in the PFA Team of the Year five times. De Gea won one Premier League in 2013. Along with it, he won an FA Cup, One Europa League, 2 League Cups, and 3 Community Shields.
Currently, David de Gea is without a club after his contract expired in the summer. We may see him joining a new team very soon as many clubs are interested in signing him.
9. Yann Sommer – Inter Milan/Switzerland
Yann Sommer is arguably one of the most underrated goalkeepers of recent times. He is currently the no.1 for Switzerland and Inter Milan. The 34-year-old was born in Morges, Vaud, and started his youth career at FC Herrliberg.
He later moved to Concordia Basel and then to Basel where he started his journey. He started with the Basel youth team in 2003. At Basel Sommer signed his first professional contract in 2005. Soon after that, he became the number one for Basel’s under-21 team.
Sommer’s opportunities in the first team of Basel were few, despite that he signed a contract extension till 2011 and then went on loan to Vaduz. He played in 33 matches for Vaduz and helped them get promoted to the Swiss Super League.
Although his loan term was extended for one more year in Vaduz he was recalled by Basel after their first-choice goalkeeper got injured. Sommer was loaned out to Grasshoppers for a year-long loan the very next season.
In 2010 after returning from loan Sommer signed a five-year extension with Basel and played the season as the 2nd choice goalkeeper. In the 2011-12 season, he became the first-choice keeper of Basel before leaving the club in 2014. In total Sommer played a total of 170 matches for Basel winning four Swiss League titles and 2 Swiss Cups.
At the start of the 2014-15 season, Sommer signed for Borussia Monchengladbach. In Monchengladbach, he performed very well regularly. In his first season itself, they finished 3rd in the league.
Sommer’s excellent performances for his club brought interest from many big teams but nothing materialized. In Monchengladbach, Sommer played eight and a half seasons making a total of 335 appearances. However, he was unable to win any silverware.
In the winter transfer of the 2022-23 season, Bayern Munich signed Sommer as a replacement for their first-choice goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. His performances for Bayern were consistent as he made 25 appearances. Sommer won his first silverware in Germany as Bayern Munich won the league.
In August 2023 Sommer was signed by Inter Milan from Bayern Munich to replace the outgoing Andre Onana. Sommer represented Switzerland on the international stage in multiple age groups. He made his international debut in 2012.
Although he has faced stiff competition for being the first-choice goalkeeper of Switzerland, he has always been a consistent performer for his national side. He has made 83 senior appearances for Switzerland.
8. Unai Simon – Atletico Bilbao/Spain
Unai Simon is a Spanish international goalkeeper plying his trade in La Liga for Athletico Bilbao. He is the first-choice keeper for both his club and country. Simon started his youth career at CD Vitoria. In 2011, he joined the academy of Athletico Bilbao.
Simon was promoted to the reserve team in 2013. After making 60 appearances for the reserves he was promoted to the first team of Atletico Bilbao in 2017.
In 2018, Simon signed his first professional contract until 2023. At the start of the same season, he made his debut for Atletico Bilbao after their first-choice goalkeeper was injured. In the 2019-20 season, Simon became the first-choice goalkeeper of Bilbao.
His performances both in the league and in Europe have made him one of the most sought-after goalkeepers in recent times. In the four seasons since making his debut, Simon has made a total of 128 appearances for Atletico Bilbao. The 26-year-old has won a Supercopa de Espana with the club to date.
Simon has been a regular for Spain in different age groups. He won the under-19 and under-21 European championships with Spain in 2015 and 2019 respectively. Simon made his international debut against Netherlands in November 2020.
He has a total of 25 appearances for the Spanish National team and is currently the first choice between the sticks. He won a silver medal at the 2021 Olympics and recently won the Nations League with Spain.
7. Emiliano Martinez – Aston Villa/Argentina
Emiliano Martinez was one of the most underrated goalkeepers in the world, until the 2022 Qatar World Cup. He was born in Mar Del Plata, Argentina in 1992. He started his youth career with Independiente. In 2009, after his 17th birthday, he was invited by Arsenal for trials.
After the trials, he was offered a youth contract which he accepted, and joined Arsenal in 2010. Life in Arsenal was not how Martinez would have wanted it to be as he was often sent out on loan and given minimal chances to be a part of the first team.
However in 2019 after Bernd Leno, the first-choice goalkeeper of Arsenal, was injured he finally got his chance. At Arsenal, he made a total of 38 appearances and won two FA Cups and three Community Shield. In 2020, Martinez signed for Aston Villa on a 4-year deal to get regular opportunities.
After joining Aston Villa within months he became their number one. Since joining Aston Villa Martinez has been performing well for his team and is one of the main players of the team. Martinez has 114 appearances for Aston Villa till now.
The international career of Martinez is very interesting as he got his first call-up to be the Argentina goalkeeper in 2011. However, his next call-up to the national team came in 2019. He made his international debut in 2021 against Chile. Although Martinez got his international debut very late, he grabbed his opportunity and ran with it.
In the 2021 Copa America Martinez was excellent for Argentina and won the Copa America as well as the Golden Glove. In the 2022 FIFA World Cup, he was once again excellent and made some excellent clutch saves that helped Argentina lift their third FIFA World Cup. Martinez has made 30 appearances for the Argentina national team to date.
6. Manuel Neuer – Bayern Munich/Germany
Considered by many as one of the best goalkeepers in the history of Football, Manuel Neuer started his youth career at Schalke 04 in 1991. He was promoted over the years in the academy which ultimately made him the first-choice goalkeeper of Schalke 04 lI in 2005.
After being a part of the first team as a fringe member on numerous occasions, he finally made his Bundesliga debut in the 2006-7 season.
After his first season at the club, he had already established himself as the undisputed number one for Schalke 04. Neuer’s performances both in the Bundesliga as well as Europe earned him comparisons with German legend Jens Lehmann.
Throughout his Schalke days, he kept on performing at the highest level and had already established himself as one of the best in the game. Neuer played 203 matches for Schalke 04 and won the German Cup in his last season with the club.
Neuer joined Bayern Munich in 2011 and signed a 5 years contract with the club. He did face hostility from Bayern fans initially due to his association with their arch-rivals Schalke but that was resolved after a round of discussions between the fans and the Bayern board.
In the 2012 season, he saved the penalties of Ronaldo and Kaka to send Bayern to the finals of the Championship League. He was an important member of the team in the 2012-13 season as Bayern Munich won the treble for the first time in their history. Neuer has been a mainstay for Bayern Munich since he arrived in 2011. He has always performed exceptionally well and in 2020 he won another treble with Bayern Munich.
Neuer has played a total of 489 matches till now for Bayern Munich and in his time at the club he has won two Champions League, eleven Bundesliga titles, five German cups, Seven German Super Cups along with two FIFA Club World Cups, and two UEFA Super Cup, making him one of the best Bundesliga players of all time.
Neuer was a part of many youth German teams. However, he made his senior debut for the national team against UAE in 2009. He became the first-choice goalkeeper of Germany before the 2010 FIFA World Cup and since then has been between the sticks for Germany in every tournament till now. Neuer has 117 appearances for Germany and has won the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
5. Gianluigi Donnarumma – PSG/France
Gianluigi Donnarumma is an Italian goalkeeper and despite his age, he is currently one of the best keepers in the game, especially for his national side. He joined the youth academy of ASD Club Napoli in 2003 and was a part of it till 2013 when he left to join the youth academy of AC Milan.
In 2015 Donnarumma signed his first professional contract of 3 years with AC Milan. In the same season, he was promoted to the first team of AC Milan and was the third-choice goalkeeper at that time. He made his Milan debut in a pre-season friendly against Real Madrid.
In his Serie A debut match, his performance justified his potential. Throughout the season, with the opportunities that he got, he proved that he deserved to be the first-choice goalkeeper of the team.
At the start of the 2016-17 season, Donnarumma was made the first-choice goalkeeper of AC Milan. In 2017 after some speculation on his future, he signed a 4 years contract extension with AC Milan. In his time at AC Milan, he became the youngest goalkeeper to have reached 100 appearances for his club. At AC Milan, Donnarumma made a total of 251 appearances however he won only one silverware in the form of the Supercoppa Italiana.
After Donnarumma’s contract expired in 2021, he signed a 5-year deal with Ligue 1 side Paris Saint Germain. Since he arrived in PSG, he has been the main man between the sticks for them. Donnarumma has till now played 74 matches for PSG and has won two French League and one Trophee des Champions
Donnarumma made his debut in the senior national team against Israel in 2018. This also made him the youngest goalkeeper to play for the Italian national team. He became the number one between the sticks for Italy after the retirement of Italian legend Buffon. Donnarumma was the first-choice goalkeeper of Italy in the 2020 Euro.
In the finals of the Euro, he saved two penalties in the penalty shoot-out to win the Euro for his nation. Donnarumma has a total of 54 appearances for Italy currently.
4. Ederson – Manchester City/Brazil
Ederson is a bona fide world-class goalkeeper who has been performing consistently for years and he is genuinely one of the best in the business. He was born in Osasco, Brazil on 17 August 1993.
Ederson started his youth career in the youth academy of Sao Paulo in 2008. However, a year later he was signed by Portuguese giant Benfica. After a couple of years in the Benfica youth setup, he returned to Brazil.
Ederson joined Ribeirao in the second division in 2011. After a single season at Ribeirao, he was signed by Portuguese side Rio Ave on a 2 years contract. After some exceptional performances for the club, he was given a 5-year contract in 2014.
In 2015 Benfica again signed Ederson on a 5 year contract. However, he was the second-choice goalkeeper of the team at the start of this season. With his good performances in his debut season, he was made the first-choice goalkeeper the very next season.
At Benfica, he played 56 matches and won 2 Portuguese Leagues, one Portuguese Cup, one Portuguese league Cup and one Portuguese Super Cup.
Ederson was in the limelight after his excellent performances in the league and Europe. Many European giants were circling for his signature by now. Manchester City won the race as he signed for Pep Guardiola’s side for €40m making him the most expensive goalkeeper at the time.
Ederson has been an integral part of Pep Guardiola‘s system from day one and he is one of the main reasons why Manchester City have been so successful recently. Ederson has won 1 Champions League, 5 Premier Leagues, 2 FA Cups, 2 Community Shields, 4 League Cups, and 1 UEFA Super Cup. He has made a total of 293 appearances for Manchester City till now.
Ederson made his international debut for Brazil in 2017 in a FIFA World Cup qualifier. He has been a part of the national team however his opportunities have been limited due to the other goalkeeper that is on our list.
He has been the second-choice goalkeeper for Brazil in all the major competitions like the 2018 FIFA World Cup, 2019 Copa America, 2021 Copa America and 2022 FIFA World Cup. He was a part of the Brazilian team which won the 2019 Copa America. Ederson has made only 21 appearances for Brazil to date.
3. Marc-Andre Ter Stegen – Barcelona/Germany
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen is a German international who plays for Barcelona. Born in Monchengladbach, Germany in April 1992 he started his youth career in the youth academy of Borussia Monchengladbach in 1996. From 1996 to 2010, he played through all youth age groups.
Ter Stegen made his debut for Borussia Monchengladbach B in 2009 and became the first choice in 2010. After an impressive season in the second team, he was handed his senior debut. From the 2011-12 season, Ter Stegen became the first choice between the sticks.
In the same season with his excellent performances, Monchengladbach fought for the Bundesliga title. In the following couple of seasons, he was the main man for his team as he kept on performing at the highest level for Monchengladbach. Although Ter Stegen performed very well he was unable to win any silverware with Monchengladbach.
In the 2014- 15 season, Barcelona signed Ter Stegen from Borussia Monchengladbach for €12m. In his first season at Barcelona, he played only in the Cup and Champions League games. This unique approach meant that he did not make his La Liga debut until the next season.
However, it was a great season for him as he was able to help Barcelona win both the domestic cup and the Champions League. In 2015, he made his La Liga debut against Atletico Madrid however in this season the same unique rotation approach was used by the coach. At the start of the 2017-18 season, he was made the first-choice goalkeeper of Barcelona in all competitions.
Since becoming the first choice between the sticks, he has kept on performing at the highest level. Since joining Barcelona in 2014 till now he has won 1 Champions League, 5 La Liga, 5 Spanish Cups, 3 Spanish Super Cups, 1 FIFA Club World Cup, and 1 UEFA Super Cup. Ter Stegen has a total of 379 appearances for Barcelona till now.
Ter Stegen has been a part of every German age group team. He was first called up to the senior team in 2012 and made his debut against Switzerland. However, he has always been the second choice in the national team after Manuel Neuer. In 2017, Ter Stegen was selected as the first-choice goalkeeper for the Confederations Cup.
In this tournament, he performed exceptionally well and his performance in the final helped Germany win the Confederation Cup. After that, he has been given chances but has never been the leading man between the sticks for Germany.
However, recently with Neuer’s consistent injury problems, Ter Stegen has become Germany’s number one. Since his debut in 2012, Ter Stegen has played a total of only 34 matches for his nation and has won the FIFA Confederation Cup.
2. Thibaut Courtois – Real Madrid/Belgium
Thibaut Courtois is one of the greatest goalkeepers in the world. Courtois was born in Bree, Belgium on May 11, 1992. He started his youth career in Bilzen V.V. in 1997. However, in 1999, he moved to the youth academy of Genk. From 1999 till 2009 before making his debut for the senior team of Genk, Courtois was a part of every age group and the second team of Genk.
In 2009, Courtois made his senior debut after the first-choice keeper was injured. Following a good performance after his debut he was made the first-choice goalkeeper of Genk in the 2010-11 season.
In his first season as a first-choice keeper, he played a very important role in helping Genk win the Belgian Pro League. He made 45 total appearances for Genk from his debut till the end of the 2010-11 season.
In 2011, Courtois was signed by Chelsea for about €9m on a 5 years contract. However, he was loaned out to Atletico Madrid for one season. The loan spell in Atletico Madrid continued for two more years. In his 3 years loan at Atletico Madrid Courtois won La Liga, Europa League, Spanish Cup, and UEFA Super Cup. He made a total of 154 appearances for Atletico Madrid.
Courtois returned to Chelsea in 2014-15 and kept on performing at the highest level. In his three seasons at Chelsea after returning from Atletico Madrid he helped Chelsea win two Premier League, one FA Cup, and a League Cup. Courtois made 154 appearances during his time at Chelsea.
In 2018 Courtois joined Real Madrid on a 6-year contract. Although the first season at Real Madrid was mediocre in comparison to his previous seasons, his second season at Real Madrid, he bounced back and won the La Liga and the Spanish Super Cup.
Since then his performances have kept getting better and better. Courtois’ performances were a major reason behind Real Madrid lifting the Champions League along with One more La Liga, Spanish Cup, Spanish Super Cup, and Club World Cup. He has played 230 matches for Real Madrid till now. However, at the start of last season, he suffered a major ACL injury making him unavailable for almost a year.
Courtois made his international debut in 2011 against France in a friendly. Since then Courtois has been the number one for Belgium in major international tournaments like the 2014, 2018, and 2022 FIFA World Cups and the 2016 and 2020 Euros. He has 102 appearances for Belgium but has not won any silverware with the national team.
1. Alisson Becker – Liverpool/Brazil
Alisson Becker is one of the best goalkeepers in the world right now. He is the Creme de la Creme of goalkeepers. He was born in Novo Hamburgo, Brazil in 1992. In 2002 he joined the youth academy of Internacional. Alisson advanced in the youth ranks of Internacional before making his debut in 2013.
In Internacional, he played for four seasons making a total of 101 appearances, and won the Campeonato Gaucho every year. Alisson signed a pre-contract with Roma in 2016 in which Roma paid €7.5m to Internacional.
In his first season at Roma, Alisson was the second-choice goalkeeper. However, he made his debut for Roma in the same season in a Champions League match against Porto. In his second season at Roma, he became the first choice between the sticks after Szczesny joined Juventus.
The 2017-18 season was a breakthrough year for Alisson as he consistently performed in both Serie A and the Champions League for Roma. Despite getting thrashed by Liverpool in the semis of the Champions League, he caught the eye of the Liverpool management. He made a total of 64 appearances in two seasons for Roma but did not win any silverware.
In 2018, Liverpool signed Alisson from Roma for a world record fee of €72.5m, making him the most expensive goalkeeper at that time. Alisson had a great debut season at Liverpool as he kept 17 clean sheets in the Premier League. Moreover, his performances in the Champions League helped Liverpool win the Champions League. His save against Napoli in the final group game will go down as one of the most important saves in Liverpool’s history.
The 2019-20 season was again a great season as Liverpool won the Premier League, the UEFA Super Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup in the same year. Ali scored the first goal of his career in 2020, when he headed in a winner from a corner against West Brom, That was a must-win game for Liverpool as their top-4 chances were hanging by a thread but Alisson came in clutch.
Alisson kept performing at the highest level in the 2021-22 season as he helped Liverpool win the FA Cup and the League Cup. For Liverpool, he has made 243 appearances till now. He has gone on to become one of the best goalkeepers of all time due to his amazing ability to keep his team in matches.
Alisson has been part of the Brazil U15 and U19 teams but his breakthrough to the men’s senior team came in 2018. Ali made his senior debut against Venezuela in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Alisson was part of the Brazilian squad in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in which they lost to Belgium in the quarter-finals. However, He did help Brazil win the 2019 Copa America.
Since then he has been performing well for Brazil but unfortunately, they are yet to win any major international trophy. Since making his debut in 2015 Alisson has made 61 appearances for Brazil.
Alisson has also kept Ederson out of the starting XI despite Ederson being a more decorated player domestically with Manchester City. Imagine how highly everyone rates Alisson now!