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The Current “Top” keepers In Europe – Do The Statistics Lie?

It is always a talking point amongst football critics, mates down the pub and the endless groups of Monday “experts” gathering around the water coolers, building sites and tearooms all around the globe. “Who is the best?” It is what makes us who we are, separates us from our peers and defines our character. Rather than compare keepers from different eras, I will dissect the stats from the most popular leagues in Europe to come up with the current top five in keepers in each and open it up to the floor for discussion.

One thing is for certain that fans rarely agree and everyone has their own favourite. They may not come from the stats book, but rather from the heart or from a deep emotional club bond or National pride that is harder to crack than a piece of “Corelle” crockery.


In my opinion I have chosen from Europe’s four most hardened football leagues towards inclusion towards this most subjective of selection exercises. The English Premier League is a given, followed by Spain’s La Liga; Germany’s Bundesliga, and Italy’s Serie A. I would have included the Dutch Eredivisie but trying to gain detailed stats for goalkeepers is proving harder to find than a left handed football.  For now I will stick with “arguably” the big four and in future editions may move the focus onto Ligue 1 (France); Eredivisie (Dutch); Superligean (Danish) and Spor Toto Super Lig (Turkey).

For the purpose of the exercise, I will take the top five keepers from each league based on clean sheets recorded (often used as a bench mark of a keeper’s quality) but not the only measure as it does not always reveal a keeper’s real worth based on the work rate the keeper may have endured throughout a tough season. i.e.: shots faced/goals allowed. The average minutes between goals conceded is another fine measure so together with clean sheets will go part of the way in determining the worth of a keeper.

Again the results are up for discussion, analysis and cross-examination. There is certainly no right or wrong answer but an interesting window to the world of what makes a fine keeper. More often than not though the cream of the keeping elite does tend to rise to the top of the stats sheet.

English Premier League after 26 rounds (Min 10 games to qualify)

Top 5 Clean Sheets

Joe Hart 11 (Manchester City)

Simon Mignolet 9 (Sunderland)

Asmir Begovic 9 (Stoke City)

Petr Cech 9 (Chelsea)

Pepe Reina 8 (Liverpool)

Top 5 Average minutes between goals conceded

Hugo Lloris (Tottenham) 102.8 mins 16 games

Joe Hart (Manchester City) 97.5 mins 26 games

Gerherd Tremmel (Swansea City) 92.8 mins 12 games

Petr Cech (Chelsea) 84.6 mins 24 games

David De Gea (Manchester United) 81.00 mins 18 games

Top 5 shots to goals conceded

Gerhard Tremmel (Swansea City) (168 shots/11 goals = Avg. 15.27 shots)

David De Gea (Manchester United) (235 shots/20 goals = Avg. 11.75 shots

Simon Mignolet (Sunderland) 399 shots/34 goals = Avg. 11.74 shots

Julio Cesar (QPR) (287 shots/25 goals = Avg. 11.48 shots

Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion) (278 shots/25 goals = Avg. 11.12 shots

German Bundesliga after 22 Rounds (Min 10 games played to qualify)

Top 5 Clean Sheets

Manuel Neuer (Bayern München) 16

Oliver Baumann (SC Freiburg) 9

Roman Weidenfeller (Borussia Dortmund) 7

Fabian Giefer (Fortuna Düsseldorf) 7

Rene Adler (Hamburger SV) 6

Top 5 Average minutes between goals conceded

Manuel Neuer (Bayern München) 282.8 mins 22 games

Oliver Baumann (SC Freiburg) 90 mins 22 games

Roman Weidenfeller (Borussia Dortmund) 78.75 mins 21 games

Christian Wetklo (FSV Mainz 05) 73.20 mins

Lars Unnerstall (FC Schalke 04) 73.13 mins

Top 5 shots to goals conceded

Manuel Neuer (Bayern München) 162 shots/7 goals = Avg. 23.14 shots

Rene Adler (Hamburger SV) 305 shots/27 goals = Avg. 11.30 shots

Oliver Baumann (SC Freiburg) 218 shots/22 goals = Avg. 9.91 shots

Marc-Andre Ter Stegen (Mönchengladbach) 292 shots/31 goals = Avg. 9.42 shots Fabian Giefer (Fortuna Düsseldorf) 273 shots/29 goals = Avg. 9.41 shots.

Spanish La Liga after 24 Rounds (min 10 games played to qualify)

Top 5 Clean Sheets

Thibaut Courtois (Atlético Madrid) 11

Willy Caballero (Málaga) 10

Andrés (Osasuna) 9

Iker Casillas (Real Madrid) 8

Adrián (Betis) 7

Top 5 Average minutes between goals conceded

Willy Caballero (Málaga) 102.86 mins 24 games

Iker Casillas (Real Madrid) 100.12 mins 19 games

Thibaut Courtois (Atlético Madrid) 94.29 mins 22 games

Andrés (Osasuna) 80 mins 24 games

Víctor Valdés (Barcelona) 80 mins 24 games

Top 5 shots to goals conceded

Willy Caballero (Málaga) 259 shots/21 goals = Avg. 12.33 shots

Dani Hernández (Valladolid) 220 shots/22 goals = Avg. 10 shots

Iker Casillas (Real Madrid) 169 shots/17 goals = Avg. 9.94 shots

Andrés (Osasuna) 250 shots/ 27 goals = Avg. 9.26 shots

Toño (Granada) 239 shots/26 goals = Avg. 9.19 shots

 Serie A after 25 Rounds (min 10 games played to qualify)

Top 5 Clean Sheets

Morgan De Sanctis (Napoli) 10

Mariano Andújar (Catania) 9

Gianluca Pegolo (Siena) 9

Federico Marchetti (Lazio) 9

Jean Francois Gillet (Torino) 9

Top 5 Average minutes between goals conceded

Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus) 121.76 mins 23 games

Morgan De Sanctis (Napoli) 107.14 25 mins 25 games

Federico Marchetti (Lazio) 106.88 mins 19 games

Christian Abbiati (AC Milan) 84.71 mins 16 games

Sergio Romero (Sampdoria) 82.22 mins 22 games

Top 5 shots to goals conceded

Morgan De Sanctis (Napoli) 317 shots/21 goals = Avg. 15.10 shots

Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus) 228 shots/17 goals = Avg. 13.41 shots

Federico Marchetti (Lazio) 213 shots/16 goals = Avg. 13.31 shots

Sergio Romero (Sampdoria) 290 shots/23 goals = Avg. 12.61 shots

Zeljko Brkic (Udinese) 253 shots/21 goals = Avg. 12.05 shots

Based on how each keeper ranks I have compiled a final list of the top keeper from each league.

  • EPL                         Joe Hart (Manchester City)
  • Bundesliga         Manuel Neuer (Bayern München)
  • La Liga                   Willy Caballero (Málaga)
  • Serie A                 Morgan De Sanctis (Napoli)

So there you have it. What do you think? I welcome your criticisms and concerns and if there another measures you could use or add to the mix, I wanna hear from you!