Football Features

Under-the-radar goalkeepers your club should sign this summer transfer window

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 15:30, 22 June 2022

Goalkeepers are the loneliest, most underrated and possibly most important position in football.

As the Champions League final showed, a great goalkeeper can make all the difference between success and failure. They are absolutely crucial pillars of team building and every elite side is only an elite side because they have their goalkeeping situation sorted out.

Teams have won Champions Leagues and World Cups with middling strikers but no one has ever won a World Cup or a Champions League with a less-than-great goalkeeper. And teams with big ambitions around Europe will be out to sign some goalies this summer.

But obviously the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Alisson, Edouard Mendy, Mike Maignan and Ederson aren’t going anywhere. So what are clubs to do? And what if that level of talent is out of your budget anyway? Well, we’ve had a look and come up with some goalkeepers to keep an eye on, both in terms of old-school orthodox stoppers as well as the more modern ball-playing sweeper keepers.

Old-school goalkeepers

As Thibaut Courtois showed in the Champions League final: sometimes you don’t want or need a modern goalkeeper to win big games. Thibaut Courtois is nothing fancy, he’s just absolutely brilliant at what he does, collecting high crosses, making big saves and winning.

Nick Pope

It may seem ridiculous to suggest that England international Nick Pope could go under the radar but considering that now Burnley have been relegated, he just might be forgotten about (at least until some Brice Samba style heroics in the Play-offs).

Pope is all wrong for teams looking for a ball-playing goalkeeper but he’s made 3.36 saves per-90 minutes, claiming 1.28 high balls per-90 to take the pressure off his defence and, in true Burnley style, attempted 8.81 launches (a long pass into an area of the pitch with no obvious target) this season. A true throwback.

Etienne Vaessen

Etienne Vaessen has been at RKC Waalwijk all his career. The Dutch side conceded 51 goals this past 2021/22 season but Vaessen is coming into his own as a goalkeeper with 3.55 saves per-90, 1.23 high claims and a massive 10.68 launches. In a team with a sturdier defence he could be great.

Ivan Provedel

The gigantic Ivan Provedel is a player who maybe isn’t quite as quick with the launches (7.4 per-90 for Spezia last season) but he is adept at making saves with 3.78 and uses his size to his advantage with 0.91 high claims per-90.

Jeremias Ledesma

The absolutely amazing Cadiz survived relegation on the last day of La Liga by beating Alaves away from home. They did so by keeping a clean sheet with Jeremias Ledesma in goal. That was his 13th shut-out of the season, including two against Barcelona and one against Real Madrid. Ledesma excels at taking pressure off his defence with 1.11 high claims per-90 and has prevented 4.14 goals this season. If you play in a low block and want an orthodox goalkeeper? Go shopping in Cadiz!

Maduka Okoye

This is kind of a cheat, because Maduka Okoye’s breakout season for Sparta Rotterdam where the 22 year-old launched it 9.5 times per-90, made 3.31 saves per-90 and claimed 0.72 high balls per-90 will all go to benefit Watford, who sent him out on loan there. With Ben Foster leaving the club at the end of June, expect the near two metre tall Okoye to be the new Hornet’s no. 1.

Modern goalkeepers

Everyone knows what a modern goalkeeper looks like; whether it’s the outrageous passing of Ederson and Marc-André Ter Stegen or the unshakeable sweeping of Alisson and Manuel Neuer. You want a goalkeeper who can lead from the back, and finding guys who can do that without them being the big boys is not easy.

Sonny Stevens

SC Cambuur conceded a massive 70 goals this season, but don’t let that cloud your view of Sonny Stevens. He’s a useful goalkeeper who has made 27.26 passes inside his own half, showing that he’s involved in his team’s build-up play. His long pass accuracy is a respectable 46.86% (for reference, Alisson’s is 48.1%) and he made 0.35 keeper sweeping actions per-90 last season. Also it’s worth noting that Cambuur’s worst run of the season came while Stevens was injured, where they lost all five games without him.

Jonathan Bond

Over in MLS, Englishman Jonathan Bond is making a name for himself with LA Galaxy. Bond has attempted 26.78 passes inside his own half, with a long-pass accuracy of 47.68%. He’s also attempted 0.46 keeper sweeping actions across the 2021 and nascent 2022 seasons. A return to the Premier League, with the right side of course, could bode very well for the 29 year-old.

Peter Leeuwenburgh

Yes we’re back in the Eredivisie this time with Peter Leeuwenburgh of Groningen. Now the 28 year-old Dutch goalkeeper actually isn’t that accurate of a passer but he is safe moving the ball around his own half with 26.24 passes attempted inside his own half. Where Leeuwenburgh shines is as a sweeper, racing off his line for 0.53 sweeping actions over the last season.

Oliver Baumann

Oliver Baumann has been at Hoffenheim long enough to have played with Roberto Firmino there. The 32 year-old is part of the furniture, but if a top club needed a stable veteran as a back-up he could be a very solid option. Baumann attempted 31.55 passes inside his own half per-90 last season, while his overall pass accuracy was an impressive 78.17%. Things waver a bit on his long passes but he has also attempted 0.39 sweeping actions per-90.

Stefan Ortega

We round off by remaining in the Bundesliga, but this time with Argentine Stefan Ortega. The 29 year-old is about to leave Arminia Bielefeld at the end of his contract and will be available for free. “I have ambitious goals and only one career,” he said back in May.

You can see why he’s betting on himself. Last season Ortega was like a man possessed, making 125 saves and preventing 5.61 goals in the process. His 26.55 passes attempted inside his own half show a man comfortable with the ball at his feet, and his 49.21% pass accuracy on long passes is very impressive. He performed 0.36 sweeping actions as well to really confirm his status as a modern goalkeeper, one any team would be lucky to have.