The Hard Tackle takes a look at five of the most highly sought-after goalkeepers in Europe in this summer’s transfer window.
The previous summer unusually, many top teams across Europe and England went on to buy a first choice goalkeeper rather than make the usual outlay on marquee attackers. Goalkeepers were in high demand that time around and this summer too, there are plenty who could make moves.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Real Madrid brought in some of the top-rated goalkeepers in the continent, while other, smaller teams also made such moves. Take West Ham United for instance; they bought Lukasz Fabianski, and it proved to be an inspired signing or Arsenal who got their man in Bernd Leno, who successfully displaced veteran Petr Cech from his No.1 position.
The glittering signings were however made by the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea, and Real Madrid. Liverpool’s sensational signing of Alisson Becker from Roma smashed all transfer records set before for the purchase of a goalkeeper with a £65 million move for the Brazilian. Chelsea did not wait too long to break that incredible record with their own £71 million outlay on Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Real Madrid made a move for then Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois, which eventually forced Chelsea’s hand for the transfer of Arrizabalaga. Overall, goalkeepers were high in demand last season like no other before. Although that kind of flu is not expected to be generated this time around, several teams are looking for a new No.1.
The names on this list are slightly different than the usual suspects that were ever present in the summers before.
David De Gea for instance, a constant fixture in such lists may not be present, but Italian No.1 and AC Milan’s young star Gianluigi Donnarumma makes a comeback into this list after being absent the last time out after signing a new deal. However, there are some new faces this time out and its time to find out why they are so much in demand this summer.
Current Club: Stoke City
Suitor(s): AFC Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Aston Villa
Potential Transfer Fee: £30 million
Most Likely Destination: AFC Bournemouth
It was quite understandable when Jack Butland signed for Stoke City back in 2014 that a host of other top sides were interested in the then Derby goalkeeper. It was a significant outlay on a 21-year-old goalkeeper back then when Stoke shelled out £5 million, but ever since, Butland has not looked back. What is not understandable is why he hasn’t left Stoke City after their relegation in the season before?
Butland, for years, has been touted to be hot property in the Premier League and after a brief absence from the papers, he is back for this summer window. The keeper played 45 times in the Championship and other competitions as Stoke failed to get promoted back to the Premier League. He was widely tipped to leave when they got relegated in the first place but stayed put with the side to boost his chances this summer.
He has certainly done no harm to those chances as several Premier League sides circle the talented 26-year-old keeper. Newly promoted Aston Villa, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace are vying for his signature as they look to reinforce their squad. It could be ironic if he joins Bournemouth for current No.1 Asmir Begovic was the man who kept him out of the Stoke starting-XI for as long as the Bosnian was there.
The only potential problem could be Stoke’s asking price. The Championship side might be looking at a figure between £25-£30 million for their keeper. The issues could be with the potentially linked teams, as they might refuse to pay up big money. Either way, he has Premier League experience and the sides linked could certainly make do with Butland’s quality, especially for his cost.
Current Club: Cardiff City
Suitor(s): Aston Villa, Liverpool, AFC Bournemouth, West Ham United
Potential Transfer Fee: £10 million
Most Likely Destination: Aston Villa
Despite being one of the better sides in the Premier League last term, Cardiff City failed to avoid relegation. The reason was a lack of goals scored rather than their defence, which was not bad compared to other bottom sides. Yet they conceded 69 goals and could have been more if not for their talented goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, who might be one of the underrated properties of the current window.
The Premier League’s first ever Filipino might have found it unlucky to spend only a single season in the Premier league as a first choice keeper. But things are looking bright, thanks to his glowing performances the last term for Cardiff. Many sides require a quality keeper and could prompt a swift return to the top flight for Etheridge.
At 29, Etheridge has plenty of years under his belt. Despite conceding a massive 69 goals last season, Etheridge managed to keep 10 clean sheets, which is more than what Arsenal managed the previous term. He also has 141 saves to his name, which is the second best in the league, only behind Fabianski.
Despite the club’s failure, it could be said Cardiff were able to challenge for survival, and Etheridge deserves much of the credit due to his performances between the sticks.
The interest in the goalkeeper is apparent. Liverpool are the headline club among many others, but there could be doubts if Etheridge would choose Anfield as his preferred destination. The Merseysiders are looking to replace Simon Mignolet and Etheridge is unlikely to be chosen above Alisson at any point in the upcoming seasons.
He does have other options in West Ham United, who despite having Fabianski are looking for another keeper to provide competition rather than just a back-up for the Pole. Promoted Aston Villa are also chasing the keeper and reportedly had an £8 million offer rejected.
Current Club: AC Milan
Suitor(s): Manchester United, PSG
Potential Transfer Fee: £70 million
Most Likely Destination: Paris Saint-Germain
The Italian International is reportedly back in the market, and after his side missed out on the spot in Next Season’s Champions League, his agent might look for a move elsewhere. There are plenty of teams who could be ready to pay a large sum to recruit Donnarumma with PSG, Chelsea, and many others linked.
Donnarumma was close to leaving Milan two summers ago, although after much debacle he stayed put at the Italian club. There were reports the new deal he signed back then had release clauses, whose numbers would have changed depending on Milan’s ability to qualify for the Champions League. There are suitors, including Manchester United who could effectively offer the Italian a new challenge.
PSG have parted ways with the legendary Gianluigi Buffon and are reportedly looking for an alternative to first-choice keeper Alphonse Areola. Manchester United could mount a concrete challenge to sign the keeper, as they look to replace the formidable David De Gea as the Spaniard edges closer than ever towards an Old Trafford exit.
Manchester United might be out of next season’s Champions League, but the lure of playing at Old Trafford might trump other suitors, and Donnarumma might realise his dream here.
The Italian is undoubtedly a top-class player and has a long future ahead of him. Milan’s failure to progress in recent seasons could instead turn into a perfect opportunity for Donnarumma to finally leave the side for a bigger club with ambitions and one that challenges for big trophies.
Current Club: Real Madrid
Suitor(s): PSG, Manchester United
Potential Transfer Fee: £10 Million
Most Likely Destination: PSG
Many fans are sympathising with Keylor Navas’ situation at Real Madrid. At one of the biggest clubs in the world, the Costa Rican arrived as an underdog following his brilliant performances at the World Cup in Brazil. Yet he was able to brush aside the underdog tag and produced consistent performances as Real Madrid won the La Liga once and three consecutive Champions League crowns.
To be honest, the Costa Rican’s performances were never the problem. The problem was Real Madrid President, Florentino Perez’ desire to see a marquee goalkeeper, who has a higher reputation than that of Navas. For years, Perez has been chasing De Gea and even came close four years back to signing him, and till last season Madrid were linked with the Spain No.1, which shows their desperation to hire a top name keeper.
With the constant failure in the De Gea chase, Madrid finally gave up and hushed in to sign Chelsea keeper Courtois instead. The Belgian has had no luck since joining the side as Madrid crashed out of all fronts. Since Courtois’ arrival, Navas got dropped. This was attributed to the new managers, but the situation has not changed even with Zinedine Zidane’s return, meaning his departure is now inevitable.
Manchester United who fear De Gea’s departure this summer could consider the Costa Rican while PSG are the other side looking for an alternative to Areola. AC Milan might also look at Navas while many different Premier League sides could show an interest in the keeper, although he would undoubtedly prefer one of the bigger clubs as he definitely has plenty of years in him at the top.
Current Club: LOSC Lille
Suitor(s): Manchester United, Inter Milan, PSG
Potential Transfer Fee: £30 Million
Most Likely Destination: Manchester United
Many could be forgiven not to know who Mike Maignan is, considering he is now searched more extensively since his growing links to Manchester United. Touted as a potential De Gea replacement at Old Trafford, Maignan has himself to thank after a brilliant season in Ligue 1, where his side finished runners-up to Paris Saint-Germain.
Maignan played the entire season at Lille, each minute of their league season. He conceded a meagre 33 goals in those 38 games, keeping 15 clean sheets in the process. Additionally, a 40% penalty record to also go with, Maignan, still only 23-years-old has the world at his feet. Interest from a club like Manchester United might be overwhelming, but Maignan has undoubtedly earned it.
Inter Milan and PSG might also be interested in the player who they previously had in their ranks. With Maignan’s performances currently better than the Paris club’s keeper Areola, they could be tempted to bring him back. But if De Gea leaves, United have him firmly in their sights and could take the lead in his chase. Maignan certainly has a vast future ahead of him.
So what do you make of the list? The likes of Navas, Etheridge, and Butland offer some great potential to suitors, but the likes of Donnarumma and Maignan offer great promise and a long future. The latter two might have a big price tag attached to them, but the others on the list could certainly be bought in as cheaper alternatives. Where will they end up in this current window and will they prove their worth at their potential new clubs?