As we have stated before – ask a million footy fans what they understand by the term “world class” and you will receive a million different answers. Go ahead. Ask ten of your friends when you finish this article.
Let’s not get twisted in terms here but very simply a class player should be able to walk into any “major” or “challenging” club in the world. Check the top 15 earning clubs per the Deloitte money list and you would find a decent enough list of these “challenging clubs”.
That said there are a good few keepers who have been ascribed this title in the Premier League – David De Gea, Hugo lloris, Thibault Courtois, Simon Mingolet, Peter Cech and even Claudio Bravo.
An examination of these keepers begs a more precise question perhaps. Are these goalkeepers worth their reputation or hype?
David De Gea has been highly touted in recent years as an excellent shot stopper and was previously on his way Real Madrid except for some paperwork madness that killed the deal. Those with a longer memory might recall where De Gea struggled even being dropped during his first years at the club. That said the Soccer Surgery top rated keeper in the Premier League is certainly deserving of that title mostly for consistently showing the highest save percentages whenever we stumble upon this analysis.
Thibault Courtois has been widely seen as the alternative for Real Madrid should De Gea continue to resist their advances. Whereas De Gea’s athleticism and reflexes stands him well as an excellent shot stopper, the Chelsea stopper relies on his wider wingspan and 6 6″ frame. We have noticed though over the years some sloppiness in the Belgian’s game. Take the most recent example the goal conceded to Manchester City just last week.
That carelessness is nothing new for Courtois when under intense pressure which perhaps is the reason why he sits behind De Gea on Madrid’s radar.
Another keeper lauded is Tottenham stopper Hugo Lloris who is probably the smallest of the group. Though his shot stopping rivals De Gea’s on his best days his admirers seem to ignore that his clumsiness rivals Courtois on his worst days. The most recent example was the double blunder in January against Manchester City that allowed in Leroy Sane and Kevin De Bruyne for easy goals.
Simon Mingolet had a ripping start to the Premier League singlehandedly keeping Sunderland from relegation in the 2010-11 season. Accordingly, his signing by Liverpool was praised widely by most pundits including even your beloved Surgeons. Then he stepped unto the Anfield pitch and forgot how to play goalkeeper. Since then his form has fluctuated game to game with the only constant being his bird-like flapping in the vicinity but never near any cross into the box. Add to this his incredibly poor decision making and you have the goalmouth travesty that had become Simon Mingolet .
Claudio Bravo has been the most recent disappointment of this class. Expectations were certainly high of a player arriving from Barcelona with over 112 caps for the Chilean National team playing in 2 World Cups and 5 Copa America tournaments. Before losing his starting spot in January his save percentage was almost unbelievable at 26%. Holy cow.
The keeper position is not easy, especially in the Premier League. We don’t intend to be overly critical here in the least. We thought it interesting though to highlight the struggles of most of the keepers heralded amongst the pundit class as “world class” or a “wonderful keeper”. The only keepers who seems to have shown a high level of consistency are De Gea and Manuel Neuer of Bayern Munich. Could there really be a shortage of quality keepers? Or should we adjust what we expect from a quality keeper?
As respected journalist Gab Marcotti recently summised goalkeepers offer greater value from a transfer market perspective than defenders. Given the scarcity of consistent performers around recently perhaps he has a point.