Modern football has demonstrated that goalkeepers have a significant role to play that is not limited to shot-stopping. Their primary responsibility remains to keep the ball out of the net.
With more teams adopting an expansive style of play, goalkeepers must have a diverse skill set. They must be quick on their feet and distribute the ball with precision. But none of that will get them minutes if they aren’t capable of making outstanding saves.
Having a dependable goaltender between the pipes can mean a good and a great season for a team. Without further ado, here are five goalkeepers currently the best shot-stoppers in the world.
Number 5: Thibaut Courtois (Belgium/Real Madrid)
Thibaut Courtois has been a consistent presence in goal for Real Madrid since joining the club in 2018. Courtois is a massive goalkeeper who stands 6 ft 7 in and makes it difficult to get the ball past him in one-on-one situations.
He covers a large area of the goal and has already made 27 saves in 11 La Liga appearances this season. In the 2020-21 season, he made 90 saves in 38 La Liga appearances for Real Madrid.
Every time he comes off his line to claim a cross, the Belgian international exudes confidence. However, he excels when rushing out to snuff out one-on-one opportunities because his decision-making and reflexes are second to none.
Number 4: Keylor Navas (Costa Rica/Paris Saint-Germain)
Over the last decade, Keylor Navas has been a phenomenal goalkeeper. Sadly for him, despite his heroics in helping Real Madrid win three Champions League titles, he was replaced by Thibaut Courtois.
Navas has been with PSG since 2019 and has provided excellent service to the Ligue 1 club. In just seven Ligue 1 appearances, he has made 17 saves. This season, he has saved 73% of the shots he has faced in the league.
Last season, Navas stopped 71 of the 89 shots on goal he faced for PSG in Ligue 1. His save percentage was a whopping 80.9 percent.
So far, the Costa Rican has been able to hold off Gianluigi Donnarumma, who was signed in the summer, for the number one spot.
Navas has long been known for his shot-blocking abilities. His athleticism, speed, agility, and reflexes have helped him compensate for his short stature. The 34-year-old is also known for rising to the occasion and has delivered several big-game performances for his teams.
Number 3: Edouard Mendy (Senegal/Chelsea)
Chelsea’s acquisition of Edouard Mendy has proven to be a wise move. The inconsistency of Kepa Arizzabalaga had become a major source of concern, but Mendy’s arrival has alleviated their goalkeeping woes.
Last season, the 29-year-old was a key figure in Chelsea’s Champions League victory. However, he has never been more impressive than this term. In the 2021-22 Premier League season, Mendy has stopped 25 of the 27 shots he has faced. In the league, he has a save percentage of 96.3.
Mendy is a physically imposing goalkeeper who has always been excellent at stopping shots. He had a league-high 75.3 percent save success rate and averaged 2.5 saves per game in his final season in Rennes. Mendy is an excellent shot-blocker skilled with the ball at his feet.
His distribution is excellent and crucial to Chelsea’s ability to play out from the back.
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Number 2: Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid/Slovenia)
Jan Oblak is the most consistent goalkeeper of the last decade. Since joining Atletico Madrid in 2014, the Slovenian international has been an absolute beast between the posts.
Oblak is a physically strong and athletic goalkeeper. He is known for his quick reflexes, which have helped him become one of the best shot-stoppers of his generation. Oblak’s game reading, decision-making, and handling are all commendable.
These qualities combine to make him a rock behind the Rojiblancos’ defense. Oblak saved 97 of the 120 shots he faced in La Liga during the 2020-21 season. His save success rate was at least 80%.
He has not been at his best this season, saving only 11 of the 18 shots he has faced for a save success rate of 61.1 percent. But we all know that form is transient and class is eternal. It won’t be long before the 28-year-old returns to his old self.
Number 1: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy/Paris Saint-Germain)
Despite their excellent play at Euro 2020, Italy had to rely on goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to save them on numerous occasions. Donnarumma’s heroics propelled them to the semi-finals and finals. For his efforts, the Italian goalkeeper was named Best Player of the Tournament.
At only 22 years old, the PSG goalkeeper is already regarded as one of the best in the world. Donnarumma is viewed as the long-term successor to the legendary Gianluigi Buffon and has already demonstrated his ability to live up to the hype.
Pochettino has chosen to rotate the Italian international and Keylor Navas at PSG, but it won’t be long before the former takes over as the club’s future. Donnarumma saved 90 of the 125 shots he faced in Serie A last season for a 71.2 percent save success rate.
He hasn’t been at his best this season, but he has saved 11 of the 16 shots he’s faced in Ligue 1 while keeping only one clean sheet in five appearances. Donnarumma is also an absolute beast on penalties, having never lost a shootout in his career.