Goalkeepers are typically players who don't hit peak until they're in their 30s - much later than the average footballer at any other position. That is precisely why it is difficult to find many young goalkeepers who are already stalwarts for their respective clubs, and possibly even countries. As a result, that odd young goalkeeper who does blossom into a top-quality footballer in his position must be cherished.
The modern-day goalkeeper has a lot more responsibilities than the traditional shot-stopper. They must be good with their feet to help the team build-up from the back. It is also vital for a keeper to communicate well with his backline and marshall them according to his requirements.
It is not easy being a goalkeeper, and the ramifications of an error leading to a goal can sometimes prove to be well over-the-top. To take on such pressure at a young age makes it that much more commendable.
Let's take a look at the top 5 most valuable goalkeepers in the U-23 age group right now.
#5 Aaron Ramsdale (England, Bournemouth) - £11.25 million
It has been a season to forget for AFC Bournemouth. They sit dangerously in the relegation zone at the time of writing, three points from safety. Moreover, it has been a below par season for a number of their star players, including Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser.
However, they have had a few youngsters gain some vital Premier League experience, all of whom have done pretty well under the circumstances. Welshmen Harry Wilson and David Brooks have shown plenty of promise, but none more so than English shot-stopper Aaron Ramsdale.
Ramsdale, aged just 22, replaced Asmir Begovic as the club's first-choice goalkeeper at the beginning of the 2019-20 season, and has looked a natural ever since. It has certainly not been an easy campaign for the Englishman who has had to live with the third-worst defense in the league.
Although Ramsdale has kept only 5 clean sheets this season, the promise he has shown has far outgrown the numbers in his CV so far. Often, he has been the difference between winning and losing, and his bursting onto the scene has proven to be extremely timely in a phase where the club had simply run out of options.
#4 Dean Henderson (England, Sheffield United) - £13.05 million
Sheffield United as a team have been perhaps the biggest surprise package of this Premier League season, and the Blades have Manchester United loanee Dean Henderson to thank for that. Henderson impressed for Sheffield United in the Championship last season, and the club worked hard to get him to return for one more season with them, this time in the top flight of English football.
Whether he would be able to step-up his game to the Premier League level was a question many had asked, but Henderson went on to ridicule the same. Not only was he well capable of being a Premier League goalkeeper, he was already one of the best. The 23 year-old from Whitehaven helped the Blades become one of the top 3 defenses in the league - a feat no one could have expected at the start of the season.
Such has been the rise to stardom for the Manchester United loanee, that a number of people have suggested that United move on from the error-prone David de Gea and make Dean Henderson their first-choice keeper heading into the 2020-21 season. That in itself is tremendous praise for one of world football's brightest goalkeeping talents.