The legendary Johan Cruyff once mused: “In my teams, the goalie is the first attacker.”
Indeed, the trailblazing footballer-turned-tactician is one of the great pioneers of modern management, foreseeing the evolution of the goalkeeper way before his time.
In a bygone era the goalkeeper was largely assessed by their dexterity between the sticks; now, a ‘keeper must be just as good with the ball at their feet than with the ball between their hands.
So, whether you’ve pitched up at some ramshackle stadium in the lower reaches of the football pyramid, or taken a seat in one of the iconic dugouts on Football Manager, chances are, you’ll need a goalkeeper capable of marshalling your backline.
The No. 1 position can often be overlooked when it comes to making signings, but as Cruyff stated: “The goalie is the first attacker.” As such, he should be your first priority, and we have a number of candidates for every budget below.
FM20 best cheap goalkeepers – Under £1m
Emiliano Viviano (unattached)
Starting off with the obligatory free transfer and what better way to begin our showreel than with a six-capped Italy international?
Formerly of Inter Milan, Arsenal and Sampdoria, the Florence-born shot-stopper is a ‘sweeper keeper’ in every sense and boasts a very competent all-round game, including key stats for kicking, one on ones, reflexes and throwing.
Lovre Kalinic (Aston Villa)
The towering Croat begins the game transfer listed for just over £2m but you can prise him away for under £1m with the right additional clauses.
At 6 ft 7 in Kalinic is certainly no slouch between the sticks, and while his distribution could do with some fine-tuning, his shot-stopping ability is second to none. For teams in the Championship, or any second tier club across the continent, Kalinic would make for exceptionally tidy business.
Jordan Archer (unattached)
Onto another freebie, only this time in the guise of Archer. The ex-Millwall gloveman may not come with the same pedigree as Viviano, but he would still make for a very shrewd signing, as far as free transfers go that is.
Again for those in any second-tier, Archer is the way to go if finances are tight, particularly if you’re looking for a more modern ‘sweeper keeper’ rather than a traditional goalkeeper in Kalinic’s case. The one-time Scotland international comes with a solid blend of goalkeeping skills, including 15 for reflexes, 16 for positioning and 16 for anticipation.
FM20 best goalkeepers for £1m-£10m
Esteban Andrada (Boca Juniors)
Moving further afield and Andrada could prove one of your best signings on this list. Something of a hidden gem, the fully-fledged Argentina international packs elite-level quality but not an elite-level price tag: the perfect marriage for prospective buyers.
At 28 Andrada is arguably at the optimum age for a goalkeeper and possesses some outrageous attributes, including 17 for rushing out, 17 for reflexes and 16 for aerial reach. In that sense, the South American knows how to keep the ball out, as well as setting up attacking moves.
Diego Marino (Sporting de Gijon)
Spain have a habit of producing very fine goalkeepers, and Marino is another of those, but fear not, he won’t cost you an arm and a leg, a la compatriot Kepa Arrizabalaga
A more traditional shot-stopper, Marino has a measly release clause of only £6m, so get in there quick and make the former Spain U21 international your main man between the sticks.
Wuilker Farinez (Millonarios)
Another hidden gem, but one who has been making considerable noise in the north of South America, breaking a whole host of records during his embryonic career.
The 21-year-old Venezuelan currently plies his trade for Colombian outfit Millonarios, but on the international scene he is well-established. As it stands Farinez is the youngest Goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet for Venezuela, the youngest goalkeeper to stop a penalty for Venezuela and the first goalkeeper ever to score at the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Quite the CV, and he can be yours for less than £10m.
FM20 best goalkeepers for £10m-£20m
Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo Zagreb)
A must-purchase and possibly the best player on this list, Livakovic is well-known to those of a Man City persuasion having faced Pep Guardiola’s side in the Champions League earlier this season. And he certainly acquitted himself competently in those showings.
The Croatia international has world class ratings, with his ball-playing game able to hold a candle to his shot-stopping ability. Coming from the Croatian First Football League, he won’t cost a considerable fee, but you’ll be getting first-grade quality.
Stefan Bajic (Saint-Etienne)
Next up is wonderkid Bajic, who will cost you a sizeable figure for a teenager, but it’ll be worth the price down the line.
The precocious Frenchman is an adept ‘sweeper keeper’ and packs a five-star potential rating for top-flight clubs. If developed well, you’ll have one of the best shot-stoppers on FM20 in just a few years’ time.
Mile Svilar (Benfica)
Another wonderkid, but one who will cost you slightly more than Bajic, though the extra investment will certainly be worth it.
The teenage Belgian comes with huge potential and is an archetypal Cruyff player in every sense, with an excellent passing range and an ability to instigate attacking moves with great fluidity.
FM 20 best goalkeepers for £20m and above
Andre Onana (Ajax)
If you have slightly more in the transfer kitty mind, then possibly the definitive Cruyff player is Onana. Hailed from the esteemed Ajax academy, Onana boasts an unrivalled distribution skill-set but is more than capable of protecting his net.
The Cameroon international played a vital role alongside Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt as Ajax famously reached the Champions League semi-final last season. Both players have since left Amsterdam, but will you be the one to prise another key asset away from the Dutch capital in the form of Onana? If you have the funds then you’d be a fool not to.
Bartlomiej Dragowski (Fiorentina)
The young Pole is already a regular fixture in the Fiorentina starting XI and has a future at the very peak of the game.
If you sign the 21-year-old, you’ll be getting your hands on an elite-level goalkeeper for possibly the next two decades if nurtured accordingly — an immediate and long-term investment.
Thomas Strakosha (Lazio)
Another relatively young goalkeeper and another in Serie A. Strakosha is the son of former Albania international goalkeeper Foto — and is even coached by his father at Lazio.
However, you can be the manager to drive a wedge between the two by signing Strakosha Jr for less than £30m, which presents an absolute bargain for a goalkeeper of his quality.
FM 20 best goalkeepers to sign – for every budget
- Emiliano Viviano (unattached)
- Lovre Kalinic (Aston Villa)
- Jordan Archer (unattached)
- Esteban Andrada (Boca Juniors)
- Diego Marino (Sporting de Gijon)
- Wuilker Farinez (Millonarios)
- Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo Zagreb)
- Stefan Bajic (Saint-Etienne)
- Mile Svilar (Benfica)
- Andre Onana (Ajax)
- Bartlomiej Dragowski (Fiorentina)
- Thomas Strakosha (Lazio)