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Stats: Who is the best penalty saving goalkeeper in Europe?

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Only 5 goalkeepers have saved at least 40% of the penalties saved

Best penalty savers Europe Diego Alves
Diego Alves set a new La Liga record in saving penalties

They used to say that penalties in football is all about luck. Not anymore. While the element of luck still plays a part, there is a science that goes into a penalty kick. Both penalty takers and goalkeepers may have gone through hours of footage before deciding which way to shoot, or whether to dive to the left, right or stand still.

It is no wonder then that a select few goalkeepers are harder to beat than the rest. Most goalkeepers are tall with immense reach and rely on their massive frame to plant a seed of doubt into the penalty taker’s mind. Others have faster reflexes and maybe a better gut instinct when you look at their statistics.

In the end, a lot of information is processed before the ball travels the 12 yards to either hit the back of the net or the gloves of the keeper. So which goalkeeper should you trust to save a penalty if your life was on the line?

Look no further than Diego Alves. The Valencia goalkeeper is currently the best goalkeeper in Europe when it comes to saving penalties, saving almost half the penalties he has faced.

Diego Alves sets a new record in La Liga

Alves made headlines last weekend when he saved two penalties against Atletico Madrid. Both Antoine Griezmann and Gabi saw their penalty kicks saved by the Brazilian shot stopper, even though Atletico had the last laugh with a 2-0 win.

The saves took his tally to 19 in La Liga (a new record beating Andoni Zubizarreta's record) and 22 penalty saves out of 45 attempts! No other keeper has saved as many penalties in Europe’s top five leagues. In La Liga, only two players have scored against him without missing – Lionel Messi and Sergio Garcia. 

“It is a characteristic of mine to work out penalties,” he told the club’s official website. “It is a moment when you are on your own with the person that is going to take it.”

“It is a psychological battle between the two,” he continued. “The intuition is important, reading the movement,being calm, reflexes – these are the factors that influence a penalty save.”

One of the most exciting prospects in Italy is AC Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma. He is only 17 years old and became the youngest goalkeeper to play for Italy when he came on for Gianluigi Buffon against France. At Milan, the club is still trying to reclaim their glory days but Donnarumma is genuinely one of their most exciting talents. 

Another goalkeeper who plies his trade at San Siro and is known for making quick reflex saves is Inter’s Samir Handanovic. He is sixth on the list, just a shade below Donnarumma. 

Among Premier League goalkeepers, the only one who makes the top 10 is Chelsea’s Eduardo Carvalho – and he hasn’t even played a game for the Blues yet after arriving from Dinamo Zagreb this summer. Arsenal’s Emiliano Martinez may be third-choice behind Petr Cech and David Ospina but he is the next best penalty saver among players at Premier League clubs. 

Other top goalkeepers such as Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak, Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer, Juventus’ Buffon and Manchester United’s David De Gea are outside the top 20. English goalkeepers Fraser Forster and Joe Hart are not even in the top 30. 


#GoalkeeperClubPenalty Save %age
1Diego AlvesValencia48.8
2Alfred GomisBologna45.8
3Kevin TrappParis Saint-Germain41.9
4Danijel SubasicAS Monaco41
5Gianluigi DonnarummaAC Milan40
6Samir HandanovicInter Milan38.2
7Geronimo RulliReal Sociedad38.1
8Etrit BerishaAtlanta37.5
9Eduardo CarvalhoChelsea37.1
10Mauro GoicoecheaToulouse37
11Emiliano MartinezArsenal36.3
 Juan Pablo CarrizoInter Milan36.3
 Alberto PelagottiFC Empoli36.3
14RobertoEspanyol35.7
15Tommaso BerniInter Milan35.2
16Allan McGregorHull City35.1
17Loris KariusLiverpool34.7
18Dimitros KonstantopoulosMiddlesbrough33.3
 Tom HeatonBurnley33.3
 Keylor NavasReal Madrid33.3
 Marco StorariCagliari33.3
 Edvinas GertmonasRennes33.3
23Andreas LutheFC Augsburg32.5
24Jan OblakAtletico Madrid32
 Manuel NeuerBayern Munich32
26Mathew RyanValencia31.8
27Gianluigi BuffonJuventus31.4
 David De GeaManchester United31.4
29Ivan CuellarSporting Gijon31
30Josip PosavecPalermo30

Stats updated as of 5 October. Only goalkeepers who have saved at least 10 penalties have been considered.


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