There was a time in football where goalkeeper’s were in a way, ‘undervalued’. There was a time when $17 million for a goalkeeper was considered to be a considerable sum. This was merely 5 years ago. But football today, is a changed sport.
Money, money, money. Today, football has become a sport in which money is pumped in from all directions. Amongst the list of owners of clubs, you will find some of the highest net-worth individuals on a planet. Adding to that, the constant rise in sponsorship amount and league fees, one can understand why such a situation has arisen.
A professional footballer could not ask for anything else, isn’t it?
With the influx of so much money into the sport, subsequently the pay and lifestyle of the premier athletes at least, seems to be getting better and bigger over the years. Each new contract is a bonus of millions of euros/pounds.
What’s the impact of all of this on transfer fees?
As of the year 2018, let’s take a look at some of the most expensive and thereafter, sought after goalkeeper’s in world football:
9. Jack Butland: Stoke City (£30 million)
At first glance, £30 million looks like a lot of money for a goalkeeper who missed most of the last season with injury. However, because of the transfer market inflation, £30 million doesn’t look all too bad. Only recently, Everton coughed up a similar fee for Jordan Pickford, who comes in behind Jack Butland for England’s goalkeeping position. The 24-year old had an impressive 2015-2016 season, which he was unable to back up due to injury. His most impressive statistic would be the number of saves that he has made in his relatively short career playing in the Premier League. In the 42 appearances that he has earned for Stoke, he has made an incredible 142 saves that underlines his importance to the mid-table team.
8. Ederson: Manchester City (£35 million)
The 23-year old Brazilian entered the record books after securing a deal worth reportedly £34.7 million from Benfica to Manchester City making him the most expensive goalkeeper ever. His young age, of course, is one of the major factors that’s given him such an impressive valuation. But let’s not take anything away from him. His performances for Benfica were nothing short of exemplary. In 27 games last season, he recorded an impressive tally of 17 clean sheets. So far, he has made a name for himself for his impressive on-the-ball ability and reflexive shot-stopping. With all the onus on him right now, if he matures well under Guardiola, in a couple of years this multi-million deal could also look like a bargain.
7. Hugo Lloris: Tottenham Hotspur (£35 million)
Last year, the French national team captain and Tottenham star Hugo Lloris had one of his best seasons in the Premier League. The 30-year old led his team from the back to finish an impressive 2nd. He finished second in the race to the golden-glove award, only behind Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois who ended the season with 16 clean sheets, just 1 more than Lloris who managed 15 clean sheets in 34 appearances. A goalkeeper aged 30 has just entered his prime. Although a lot of clubs would love to have Hugo Lloris as their shot-stopper, it will take something special to get him to leave Tottenham Hotspur with whom he has a contract till the year 2022.
6. Manuel Neuer: Bayern Munich (£40 million)
For a few years now, Bayern’s Manuel Neuer has been regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world. The 31-year old has been dominating for years now. He is the holder of 4 ‘UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year Award’. His name on the Bundesliga ‘Team of the Year’ sheet has almost become a formality of some sort. In the year 2014, he placed 3rd for the most prestigious individual award: Fifa Ballon D’or. Last year, he was often plagued by injury and yet in his 26 Bundesliga appearances he managed to maintain 14 clean sheets, with an average of conceding approximately 0.50 goals/game.
5. Gianluigi Donnarumma: AC Milan (£40 million)
A child prodigy, Gianluigi Donnarumma is set to reach the greatest heights in world football. At the age of just 17, he cemented his position between the posts for AC Milan. He helped them win a trophy, saving crucial penalties in the win. Italy has been blessed with world-class goalkeepers for the past decade and beyond. Gianluigi Buffon’s is at the brink of retirement and who better to take over the legend than this prodigy, with the same name. In all honesty, his £40 million valuation is definitely arguable. Being only 18 years old, taking into account the inflated nature of the transfer market, it will come as no surprise to see him transcend all valuation expectations. As of now, the youngster has refused to sign a contract extension with his club, which has seen him linked to a number of top-clubs in the world, Real Madrid & Juventus being the most keenly interested parties.
4. Thibaut Courtois:Chelsea (£45 million)
Thibaut Courtois made a name for himself when he was on loan at Atletico Madrid. After his impressive loan spell, he came back to take over the goalkeeping position from Chelsea legend: Petr Cech, subjecting the latter to an entire season on the bench. Last season, he won the Premier League’s golden-glove award, registering 16 clean sheets to his name. The 25- year old is yet to reach his prime and yet as the season’s pass, he only gets better and better. It’s come as no surprise that Real Madrid, have now for quite sometime been monitoring his position at Chelsea. In the 91 appearances for Chelsea in the Premier League, a competition that he has now won twice with the English champions, he has kept 33 clean sheets and made 209 saves. He is a goalkeeper who doesn’t make errors all that often, registering only 3 which have directly lead to goals in his entire Premier League career.
3. Marc-Andre ter Stegen: Barcelona (£50 million)
The German goalkeeper who, for years now has been playing the role of an understudy to Manuel Neuer and Claudio Bravo (for a while) is finally looking to take a step-up. After Bravo’s departure from the Catalans, he began owning the goalkeeping position at the club.The 25-year old held 13 clean sheets in 36 games last season, making approximately 3 saves per game. On an international level, German manager Low, has given ter Stegen a chance to prove himself at the Confederations Cup that’s being held in Russia. So far, ter Stegen’s performances at the tournament have enhanced his reputation.
2. Jan Oblak: Atletico Madrid (£55 million)
In the recent past, Atletico Madrid have been known to produce some of the best strikers in world football. Fernando Torres, Diego Forlan, Sergio Aguero and the list can go on and on. Due to this, efforts of the goalkeepers have often been overlooked. When Jan Oblak joined the club from Benfica, he had big shoes to fill: Thibaut Courtois. And fill did he, indeed. In the 2015-2016, he won the title of the Best Goalkeeper in the La Liga. Side-by-side, Jan has broken the club-records that were set by his predecessors: David de Gea and Thibaut Courtois. Last season, he had 15 clean sheets to his name.The 24-year old has age on his side and all the skills to truly justify his price tag, something that’s not easy in today’s transfer market.
1. David de Gea: Manchester United (£60 million)
According to some people in the world, David de Gea is the best goalkeeper in the world today. Of course, this claim is completely arguable. The young Spanish goalkeeper doesn’t have a lot of individual awards like the rest of his competitors that make this list. But it has been his performances in the last 2-3 years that have taken him to where he is today. The 26-year old has been pivotal to United’s results in the last few years. In the 200 appearances that he has made for the red devils, he has 75 cleans sheets, 535 saves and 2 penalty saves to his name. His incredible reflexes, composure on the ball and amazing shot-stopping ability have made him the prime transfer target for Real Madrid, who want to make him their next ‘Galactico’ signing.
Being a goalkeeper is no easy feat. The risk is high but so are the rewards. Will this ‘transfer market inflation’ add to the pressure of being a goalkeeper? Or, will it motivate more people to try for the most inglorious position in football?