Football Features

Ranked: Every Premier League club’s back-up goalkeeper

By Squawka News

Published: 18:30, 25 February 2024

Everyone knows how important goalkeepers are to their team, but what about their back-ups?

The back-up goalkeeper has to simultaneously be an understudy and a challenger, simply because you never want your starter to get too complacent. But, at the same time, they are your starter, so the back-up can’t be expecting to play all the time. And hell, sometimes you even sign a back-up with an eye on making them the starter somewhere down to line. The role is multifaceted.

So with that in mind, we’ve had a look at all 20 back-up goalkeepers in the Premier League and ranked them from worst to best based on their time in the English top flight.

20-11

  • 20. Ellery Balcombe (Brentford)
  • 19. João Virgínia (Everton)
  • 18. Đorđe Petrović (Chelsea)
  • 17. Adam Davies (Sheffield United)
  • 16. Dan Bentley (Wolves)
  • 15. Marek Rodák (Fulham)
  • 14. Ionuț Radu (Bournemouth)
  • 13. Arijanet Muric (Burnley)
  • 12. Robin Olsen (Aston Villa) 
  • 11. Matt Turner (Nottingham Forest)

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10. Altay Bayindir

  • Club: Manchester United
  • Premier League minutes since 2022/23: 0

After successful spells at Ankaragücü and Fenerbahçe, where he kept 53 clean sheets in 164 appearances, Manchester United brought him to the Premier League this summer alongside fellow goalkeeper Andre Onana after David De Gea’s departure. However, the Turkish shot-stopper has made one appearance for the club, having to make do with a place on the bench.

9. Tim Krul

  • Club: Luton Town
  • Premier League minutes since 2022/23: 0

Having fallen out of favour at Norwich, where he spent the best part of five years at the club, it was time for a new challenge and a move to Premier League new boys Luton. Now 35, Tim Krul’s Premier League experience will be vital to the club in their debut season as they look to avoid dropping straight back down to the Championship.

The Dutchman currently holds the joint record for the most saves ever recorded in a Premier League game since records began in 2003/04 (14 vs. Tottenham in 2013) and will be a more than capable deputy if Thomas Kaminski is unavailable for any reason.

8. Martin Dúbravka

  • Club: Newcastle 
  • Premier League minutes since 2022/23: 1,150

With Nick Pope’s arrival from Burnley confirmed in 2022, Martin Dubravka’s run as Newcastle’s number one ended four years after joining Sparta Prague. Going from an ever-present and the club’s Player of the Year in 2019/20, Dubravka was sent out on loan to Manchester United last season and, in turn, missed out on a League Cup final appearance for the club after Pope’s sending-off against Liverpool, a game which Dubravka himself was subbed on for. However, Pope’s lengthy spell on the sidelines has seen the Slovakian international back under the Newcastle bar, keeping two clean sheets across 12 appearances this season.

7. Fraser Forster

  • Club: Tottenham 
  • Premier League minutes since 2022/23: 1,215

Fraser Forster was drafted into the Spurs XI for 14 Premier League games last season, where he made 32 saves and kept three clean sheets in Hugo Lloris’ place. However, after Ange Postecoglou entered the transfer market for a new number one and Guglielmo Vicario’s incredibly impressive start to life in North London, the now 35-year-old has been relegated to the bench again.

6. Stefan Ortega

  • Club: Manchester City 
  • Premier League minutes since 2022/23: 442

Having mainly been brought in to be Manchester City’s cup ‘keeper, Stefan Ortega has had plenty of playing time across all competitions, including 14 appearances last season where he kept nine clean sheets, but has barely been used in the Premier League. However, when he was called into the league in Ederson’s absence, he was a more than capable understudy, keeping clean sheets against both West Ham and Chelsea towards the end of the treble-winning campaign last season.


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5. Dean Henderson

  • Club: Crystal Palace 
  • Premier League minutes since 2022/23: 2,340

Having left Manchester United in the summer after several successful loan moves at Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest and failing to nail down a permanent place in the starting XI during his time at the club, Dean Henderson moved to London hoping to take the number one jersey at Crystal Palace. However, after starting the first three matches on the bench behind Sam Johnstone, who has kept the joint most clean sheets in the division, the 26-year-old finds himself on the sidelines and will find it incredibly hard to become number one when he does return.

4. Lukasz Fabianski

  • Club: West Ham 
  • Premier League minutes since 2022/23: 3,114

Lukasz Fabianski finds himself firmly behind Alphonse Areola in the West Ham pecking order after spending five seasons as the Hammers’ number one. The Pole has had an impressive Premier League career, becoming one of four goalkeepers to make 1,00+ saves since data was first recorded in 2006/07 and being named Player of the Year at Swansea and West Ham. 

Now 38, his career is ending, but he is still a valuable backup for David Moyes.

3. Caoimhin Kelleher

  • Club: Liverpool 
  • Premier League minutes since 2022/23: 90

After the recent news that Alisson will miss the foreseeable future with a hamstring problem, Caoimhin Kelleher again has huge gloves to fill. The Brazilian (74.32%) has recorded the highest save percentage in the Premier League in 2023/24 (minimum 500 minutes played), conceding just 19 times (excluding own goals) and has once again shown why he is one of the best goalkeepers in the division with some fantastic displays for the Reds. 

However, Kelleher won’t be fazed, having been Liverpool’s cup hero on more than one occasion in recent seasons. The Irishman has won all four penalty shootouts for Liverpool in the League Cup, making six penalty saves and scoring the winning penalty against Chelsea before thwarting Mauricio Pochettino’s side in the 2024 final.

“We have the best goalie in the world and the best number two in the world,” Jurgen Klopp told Sky Sports in his post-match interview.

It’s now time for him to prove himself in the Premier League. 

2. Bart Verbruggen/Jason Steele 

  • Club: Brighton 
  • Premier League minutes since 2022/23: 1,080/2,610

It has been all change in goal for Brighton in recent seasons. First Roberto De Zerbi brought in Jason Steele for Robert Sanchez (who has since been sold to Chelsea), half-way through last season to help with his possession based football, before young ‘keeper Bart Verbruggen arrived in the summer from Anderlecht to provide some healthy competition and this has been the case.

At the time of writing, Steele has started 14, and Verbruggen has started 12 of Brighton’s 26 Premier League games this season, with De Zerbi still yet to decide on his definite number-one choice.

1. Aaron Ramsdale

  • Club: Arsenal
  • Premier League minutes since 2022/23: 3,870

Having taken the number one spot from Bernd Leno when he first joined the club, Aaron Ramsdale now finds himself in the same position as the German, back-up to former Brentford goalkeeper David Raya.  Despite finishing second to David De Gea in the Golden Glove standings last season, keeping 14 clean sheets in his 38 Premier League appearances, Mikel Arteta thought it was time for a change between the sticks and looking at the stats, you start to understand why.

Since the beginning of last season, Raya has a 6% better save percentage, has made 15 more keeper sweepings, has a better long ball accuracy, higher cross-claim % and has even kept more clean sheets than the Englishman (20-16).

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