The Great Debate: The Best Young Goalkeepers Of 2009

The Great Debate: The Best Young Goalkeepers Of 2009


In a review I wrote on the Top 20 Young Footballers to Watch in 2009 (2009 Top Young Players) there was a notable absence of goalkeepers. This was not done deliberately but, in truth, most of the young players that catch the headlines between the ages of 16 and 20 are invariably flare players: strikers, wingers and midfielders. Defenders typically get less of a look-in too.

The goalkeeper, of course, is a very different breed in footballing terms. At the very least goalkeepers need to be big in stature and need arguably more coaching than outfield players. It’s a very specialist role that needs time to grow into.

So it’s hardly a surprise then that people are loath to predict greatness for young goalkeepers under the age of 20. The fact is that goalkeepers mature later and last longer than their outfield colleagues. How many of the top keepers have still been doing the business well into their late 30’s? The answer is a lot of them.

Therefore, in reviewing the best young goalkeepers in world football today we need to raise the age bar a little. 26 or under seems a reasonable benchmark to me. Of course mistakes are frequently made and sometimes those touted for greatness fall by the wayside but that’s no different to the young outfield players.

Let’s go then with 10 of the best from around the globe. As always, let me know who I’ve missed or who you think is over-rated and between us we can come-up with the best future talent.

1. Manuel Neuer; Age: 22; Club: Schalke 04; Country: Germany
Now a regular with Schalke, he played every minute of every game in the 2007-8 season, only 1 of 3 players in the Bundesliga to do so. Had an outstanding game in the first knock-out stage of the Champions League last season against Porto and saved two penalties to help his team progress. Capped 13 times at under-21 level for Germany

2. Guillermo Ochoa; Age: 23; Club: Club America; Country: Mexico
Made his debut at 18 and has 157 appearances for his club to date, winning the title with them in 2005. 47 caps for Mexico and widely regarded as one of the best young goalkeepers in the world.

3. Juan Pablo Carrizo; Age: 24; Club: Lazio; Country: Argentina
Played 89 times for River Plate before moving to Lazio last summer. 19 appearances to date for Lazio, he has been capped at every underage level by Argentina and has 7 full international appearances to his name.

4. Renan Brito Soares; Age: 24; Club: Valencia; Country: Brazil
Started his career at Internacional in Brazil where he played 51 times for the 1st team. Moved to Valencia in August 2008 and has become their regular No. 1 this season. Capped 3 times at U-23 level for his country.

5. Rene Adler; Age: 24; Club: Bayer Leverkusen; Country: Germany
Made his debut in February 2007 and now the regular shot-stopper at Leverkusen, with 66 appearances to his name. 4 senior caps for Germany.

6. Igor Akinfeev; Age: 22; Club: CSKA Moscow; Country: Russia
Made his debut at the tender age of 17 and has been a regular at CSKA ever since with 136 appearances to date. Has captained the side twice in Champions League games and has a UEFA Cup and 2 Russian Championship medals to his credit. 29 caps for Russia, since making his debut in 2004.

7. Sergio Romero; Age: 22; Club: AZ Alkmaar; Country: Argentina
Transferred from Racing Club to AZ in 2007 and has made the No.1 spot his own this season, keeping 18 clean sheets into the bargain. Recently broke a hand which hopefully will not keep him out for too long. 23 caps at U-23 level for Argentina and 4 appearances in the Olympic winning team.

8. Sergio Asenjo; Age: 19; Club: Real Valladolid; Country: Spain
Came though the juniors at Valladolid and made his debut in December 2007 only conceding one goal in his first 5 appearances. Has established himself as first choice this season. 13 caps at underage level for Spain.

9. Hugo Lloris; Age: 22; Club: Lyon; Country: France
Started his career at Nice making his debut in March 2006. His appearances at Nice attracted the attentions of Lyon, AC Milan and Spurs and he finally chose Lyon, who paid 8.5m Euros for his services. Now the regular No. 1 for France’s most successful club of recent years, he has represented France at underage level and has 1 full cap.

10. Steve Mandanda; Age: 23; Club: Olympique Marseille; Country: France
Started at Le Harve where he made his first appearance in August 2005 and went on to play for them 67 times before Marseille came knocking. This followed an unsuccessful trial at Aston Villa in 2007. Signed a 4 year deal with Marseille in March 2008 and has been on the radar of a number of English clubs lately. Made his senior debut for France in September 2008 and now has 6 full caps to his name.

Honourable Mentions
Oscar Ustari, 22, Getafe, Argentina.
Rhys Taylor, 18, Chelsea, Wales
Joe Hart, 21, Manchester City, England
Lukasz Fabianski, 23, Arsenal, Poland
Ben Foster, 25, Manchester United, England

So which of the above will be among the cream of goalkeepers when they reach 30, a good age for maturing goalkeepers? Some are from the same countries and will have to battle it out for supremacy at international level and many will be the subject of transfer speculation and moves, as their careers progress. There may even be an all time great lurking in there somewhere.

So let’s have your opinions and suggestions!

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Moved to Perth, Western Australia, 7 years ago, originally from Dublin. A lifelong Man U fan born 1 month before the Munich Air Disaster. Used to make long pilgrimages to Old Trafford and follows the EPL religiously, despite the annoying time differences to Australia! Married, no kids, 1 cat. Manages an engineering company where nobody supports football!!


  1. Ben Foster will be England’s No.1 once Van Der Sar retires??????
    ben foster=england
    van der saar=holland
    Put your money on Igor Akinfeev barring no injuries…..

    • makes sense if you think about it. once van der sar retires, foster has a chance of getting the #1 jersey at United and if that happens, then he’s got a chance at getting the #1 England jersey as well.

      Made me think for a second though bob :)

  2. Ochoa? really that’s a bad joke right? because Crazy antics don’t make you better. I reckon he would be found out if he moves elsewhere.

    Where is Carlos Kameni (espanyol) on the list. I’m quite certain he’s ahead of Renan and Carizzo on the pecking chart.

  3. i tell u what, that Uruguayan Villareal goalkeeper deserves a standing ovation, even with 3 goals against, he saved a ton

  4. i think asenjo will be one of,if not the best keeper in the world in about 5 years time.i dont think much of neuer,he makes too many mistakes for my liking

  5. Thank you Ahmed for thinking before typing, thats more than what ruggeri could do!
    I actually rate Foster over VDS, he’s a better shot stopper and great thrower/kicker (probably as he started as an outfield player) Although VDS has got that ability to clam the back 4 and has that knowledge that only experience brings.

  6. I think a mention should go to Allan Mc Gregor from Rangers, he’s the best keeper in Scotland and it was partly him who took them to the UEFA cup final last year, I remember him making some really stunning saves, like the point blank one away to Werder Bremen (see it if you get a chance)

  7. I honestly think Adler should be higher as he is currently Germany’s #1. Neuer is very good but Schalke has been a nightmare of late.

  8. Kieran Westwood of Coventry should have a shout too. he is prolly the best in the Championship and i hope a top club gets him, but he will be commanding a high price.

  9. I think Joe Hart def warranted a position in top 5…

    Great Blog btw. I have added your website in my blogroll.

    Would be great if you could add my website in your blogroll too.

    Thanks in advance!!!

  10. Joe Hart is good but not that good and shouldn’t warrant a first 10 spot IMO.

    Also, saying a goalkeeper is a good shot-stopper is like saying a sprinter is a good runner. Doesn’t add anything new to the equation because all goalkeepers are good shot stoppers (yup, hard to believe right?).

    Also, Adler and Neuer are pretty equal in ratings i reckon. Both are pretty solid most of the time and to be honest, it’s hard to pick one over the other.

    The top 2 young goalkeepers are undoubtedly Igor Akinfeev and Hugo Lloris – hard to ignore their excellence.

  11. Undoubtedly, Adler and Neuer are going to be the next all-time greats of Germany. Neuer still gets to play with the younger sides, which must be a relief to Loew as it saves him from having to choose between them… for now.

  12. Yomi, Shot stopping isn’t the only thing involved in goal-keeping, their ability to read the game, decision making, kicking/throwing, their 1 on 1 ability, penalties, etc are all what makes a good goalie too, for example, Van der Sar is good at reading the game and his decision making is excellent but Pepe Reina is better at penalties and 1 on 1 situations.
    All goalies can stop shots but not all of them are at the same level in terms of of their ability (yup, hard to believe right?)

  13. The Almeria keeper Diego Alves deserves a mention, anyone see his saves against Barça at the weekend.

  14. @Dan and Richard: Both Reina and Cech do indeed qualify under my age criteria (both 26) but I excluded them based on the fact they are already established at the top level. However, I guess you could argue that about some of the others on my list so fair point!

    Also, I should have pointed out that the list is in no particular order of ranking. That’s just too hard!!

  15. ah the love hate relationship with Bobmagee continues!

    Every goalkeeper is a good shot stopper and that is a fact. Name a goalkeeper that is shit at shot stopping and we can both agree the aforementioned person is not a goalkeeper !Even you and i can stop shots when we see that ball’s projection from a fair distance. I have to agree with you that agility, decision making, composure and reflexes vary amongst goalkeepers.

    Also this thread is about young goalkeepers, under 24 i reckon so refrain from naming Peter Cech and Reina.

    Also, is it just me or does France have the best crop of goalkeepers – old and young. The current list is fairly outstanding!

  16. Piet Velthuizen from Vitesse Arnhem, Arsenal is linked with this 22 year old lad. he could be the next van der Saar. be sure to keep an eye on him.

  17. @ ruggeri

    Put your money on Igor Akinfeev barring no injuries…..?????

    Barring no injuries eh? :)

  18. rene adler is the great

    i also like young goalkeeper from fulham wesley foderingham when he play in germany

  19. are you guys kidding me? it’s widely known that the best youth goalkeeper is dean bouzanis of Liverpool (Australia). Benitez says he’s never known a greater goalkeeper at his age, and he’s much better than reina was at the same age.

  20. ahmed, mate, i’ve never played FM. And I surely wouldn’t think game stats = player’s ability in reality. I’ve seen Bouzanis play in Liverpool’s reserve games. While it’s rare to see a goalie to be the clear star of the team, Bouzanis’ quality is as such. He’s won so many man of the matches awards, and I’d say he’s close to the ability of Reina at the moment. Keep an eye out for him – he might just overtake Reina as no1 keeper in the near future

  21. definately guillermo ochoa…47 caps for the mexican national team, 157 appearances with club america, started at 18 as starter, great copa america 2007, especially against brazil, all this proves he is capable of great things…..and if he doesnt give up he will be one of the best in the world…fifa has already ranked him among the top goalkeepers in the world if im not mistaking and hes on the cover of fifa09

  22. um mate, don’t base your facts on fifa 09. best young young goalie is d.bouzanis (liverpool), best 20+ goalie is ochoa or mandanda

  23. I think Samir Handanović belongs into this group too.. He’s practically the reason why Slovenian national team is going to South Africa. And he’s 25 – Just like Ben Foster…

  24. englands keepers for the world cup 2010 south africa should be as follows:

    1. Joe Hart
    2. Ben Foster
    3. Robert Green

  25. You should take a look at Romanian First League,there is a young goalkeeper called Silviu Lung Jr.,first choice of the Romanian Youth Team.And there are others,Pantilimon from Timisoara and Tatarusanu from Steaua or Arlauskis from Unirea Urziceni.Cheers m8…

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