After over a month of international action, club football makes its much-awaited return this month, with the new edition of the Premier League less than a week away. The Premier League is stacked with world-class goalkeepers, and comparing them is no easy task.
Rudimentary comparisons between individual goalkeepers are made on a fairly regular basis, but the reality is far more complex. Modern football requires a multitude of abilities from its goalkeepers and the Premier League, in particular, puts every skill to the test.
I’ve spoken about the world’s best goalkeepers before in my weekly column but this list is decidedly different, and for good reason. Longevity and short-term success are both factors when it comes to ranking goalkeepers, and the Premier League generally requires consistency and sustained brilliance.
The one thing that unifies all the players on this list, however, is their ability to maintain their composure after a bad moment. It is a very difficult skill to develop, but it is an absolute necessity in the Premier League.
All 20 clubs in the league have impressive shot-stoppers at the moment. Ranking them in order is a bit like Sophie’s choice – every club needs a particular set of skills from its goalkeeper and there are so many factors that come into play. Here’s my take on the five best goalkeepers currently plying their trade in the Premier League.
Illan Meslier would be my first reserve pick for this list – he’d be at the top of the list in my shadow squad, if you will. His season with Leeds United was very up and down, but I’m excited about his future in the Premier League. The atmosphere around Leeds United is special, given that they returned to the top flight after 16 years in 2020. The passion at the club puts quite a lot of pressure on the players, and it’s commendable that Meslier has been able to shoulder that burden at only 21 years of age.
The one thing that struck me about Meslier was his distinct lack of fear. The Leeds goalkeeper was never afraid to come out and collect his crosses and while it didn’t always work in his favor, he never stopped. He made one of the most outstanding saves of the season against Fulham and is technically excellent. I see tremendous potential here, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes to the very top this year.
Dean Henderson is a talented goalkeeper trying to adjust to a mammoth task at Manchester United. Like Meslier, he has credentials but is in search of consistency. His form doesn’t warrant a top-five inclusion just yet, but he certainly has potential.
Henderson was excellent for Sheffield United and took them to an impressive position in the Premier League. He was expected to be busy with Sheffield United involved in a relegation battle, but Manchester United’s aspirations are different and Henderson will have to adapt. There has been a lot of misjudged criticism directed his way, and it is admirable that he continues to play his game.
With David De Gea losing his place in the Spanish side to Unai Simon, Dean Henderson could be Manchester United’s first choice in the Premier League this season. He still has a lot to learn, and we’ll finally know if he has what it takes to be a title-winning goalkeeper this season.
#5 Alisson Becker | Liverpool
Alisson Becker had to go through a fair bit of difficulty last season. Liverpool’s achievements, on the whole, were not up to the standards we’ve come to expect from them, and Alisson did struggle as a result of the club’s misfortunes.
The determination and resolve Alisson showed at the end of the season, however, are clear indicators of his credentials as a world-class goalkeeper. His goal against West Brom was only the icing on the cake – Alisson was exceptional when his team needed to step up and overcome adversity.
The Liverpool goalkeeper might not be the best in the Premier League when it comes to aerial dominance – it’s an area of his game that can improve. Alisson’s biggest strength is his ability to read situations. He seems to understand the game much better than his peers and – unlike several other goalkeepers – knows when to rush out of the area and when to hold his ground.
With Virgil van Dijk now back for Liverpool, we could see Alisson’s reading of the game become more acute. Liverpool’s defensive struggles last season had a big impact on Alisson’s performances, but the Brazilian has now had the time he needs to recalibrate and become a tremendous contributor.
#4 Ederson Moraes | Manchester City
Ederson finds himself in an interesting position because he plays for the best team in England. He isn’t forced into making save after save in the Premier League. This is a goalkeeper who – more so than anyone else – is part of his team’s defense and attack.
The Brazilian goalkeeper already holds the record for the longest goal-kick and is the best in the business when it comes to distribution. He can knock the ball dead with his feet, and his 70-yard passes can produce stunning results.
Ederson is Manchester City’s first line of attack and last line of defense. It’s been a fascinating journey for him in the Premier League because he was very involved as a shot-stopper with Benfica. He has morphed into an entirely different goalkeeper now and excels at both short and long passes. Manchester City have a very cold and efficient look about them, and Ederson’s confidence and composure is a reflection of those virtues.
On a personal level, this season will likely be massive for Ederson. The Golden Glove is up for grabs and the Manchester City goalkeeper will certainly be in with a chance. Ederson might not top this list, but he is my favorite goalkeeper in the Premier League.