Please note: Player slides taken from our overall list of the FFT100
10. Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan)
Donnarumma is only 18 but has already racked up 100 appearances for Milan, having made his debut at the ludicrous age of 16 and started every game since for the Rossoneri. Italy will mourn the retirement of Gigi Buffon, but fans already know their future is in safe hands.
The year 2017 wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, though. Donnarumma has mainly risen above Milan’s continued underachievement, but has suffered from errors of his own – although it’s testament to his regular excellence that each one is so surprising. And not even Buffon is perfect.
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Rumours of a move to Real Madrid won’t go away, and Donnarumma – a prized client of Mino Raiola – infuriated Milan fans in the summer after taking his time to extend his contract at San Siro. Either way, though, the Italian giants won’t be able to keep up with their young keeper’s progress for much longer.
9. Samir Handanovic (Inter)
As Donnarumma knows all too well, it’s hard being in Buffon’s shadow. In truth, though, Samir Handanovic is probably quite happy to stay there for the time being; getting on with his job, and demonstrating the quiet consistency that has earned him so many admirers in Italy.
The Inter shot-stopper has been ever-reliable while those around him haven’t, and aged 33, he somehow seems to get better with each season. The Slovenian is proof that you can teach and old dog new tricks, too: under Luciano Spalletti, Inter’s more patient build-up play has forced Handanovic to adjust his game accordingly.
He retired from international duty in 2015 to wave through Atletico Madrid’s brilliant Jan Oblak, but remains essential to his club side and has a contract at San Siro through to 2021.
8. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
His kicking will always be a stick to beat him with, but Tottenham fans are glad they have Hugo Lloris between the sticks more often than not.
The Frenchman’s ability to pull off breathtaking saves is among the best in the Premier League, and he remains a huge asset to his manager Mauricio Pochettino. His two saves against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu were a case in point: one from point blank to deny Karim Benzema, then an acrobatic stop that kept out Cristiano Ronaldo’s rasping drive.
Overall 2017 wasn’t vintage for Lloris, but he often produces his best when Spurs need him most.
7. Ederson (Manchester City)
It’s difficult to remember a goalkeeper emerging quite as impressively as Ederson. Last year was a breakthrough one for the Brazilian net-minder, who earned a €40m move to Manchester City in the summer and became the second most expensive goalkeeper in history.
That came after a phenomenal 2016/17 season at Benfica in which he registered 17 clean sheets – 10 in 2017 – and proved to Pep Guardiola that he was the man to replace Claudio Bravo as a dependable sweeper-keeper.
So far, the Catalan has been proved right.
6. Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)
Neuer could easily top this list when fit, but that’s just the thing – in 2017 he played only a handful of matches and spent most of his year resting up or on the treatment table.
A foot injury ruled him out of the Bundesliga run-in and crunch Champions League matches, and a metatarsal fracture has kept him out since mid-September.
On the plus side, he’s due to return early in 2018 – just in time to build up some steam ahead of the 2018 World Cup. Both Germany and Bayern want their captain back.
5. Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)
Ter Stegen’s early career was characterised by some high-profile cock-ups, but 2017 was a genuinely brilliant year in which he became one of Europe’s most consistent goalkeepers at Barcelona.
The former Borussia Monchengladbach keeper now combines nimble footwork with fine shot-stopping on a weekly basis, and has become one of Barça’s better players as they storm towards reclaiming the La Liga crown yanked away from them by Real Madrid.
Remember, too, that Ter Stegen is still only 25 – and thus has his best years ahead of him. He might not be ousting Manuel Neuer in time for World Cup 2018, but he’ll be ready and waiting when the Bayern Munich man, now 31, hangs up his gloves.
4. Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)
Aged 39, it’s hard to know what to say about Buffon anymore. He’s still technically the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, having joined Juventus for an astonishing €52m in 2001 – a price tag which somehow came to look like a bargain over the following years.
World Cup play-off defeat to Sweden was an unfair end to the international career of an all-time legend, and yet Buffon handled it all with typical good grace. “It’s disappointing. Not for me,” he said, “but for the football movement, because we failed something that could have been truly important for the country.”
His time is coming to an end, and Buffon has confirmed that this will be his final season at Juventus (“The only way [to avoid retirement] would be to win the Champions League,” he has said). But still he continues to dominate, having won the Serie A Footballer of the Year prize in November and his eighth league title in May. Is there one final triumph left in the tank?
3. Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea)
The biggest compliment you can pay to Courtois is that he doesn’t stand out, and nor does he try to. His excellence comes in his incredible consistency: minute after minute, game after game, month on month.
Rarely is the Belgian pulled up for individual criticism. Mistakes are rare. Simply, he is a centre-back’s dream; aged 25, already a commanding presence who does his job with consummate ease, and who has three league titles in two countries to show for it.
Nobody was too surprised when it became clear that even the great Petr Cech would have to make way for Courtois at Stamford Bridge, after three fine seasons on loan at Atletico Madrid. In the three and a half seasons since, he has done nothing to suggest that faith was misplaced.
2. David de Gea (Manchester United)
There are plenty who believe De Gea to be the best goalkeeper in the world, and with performances like the the one against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium – a genuinely match-winning, 14-save display – it’s very difficult to argue against it.
During a half-decade of flux at Old Trafford, De Gea has been their only constant: an outstanding performer no matter who he plays with or what changes around him at Manchester United. His three-season dominance of United’s Player of the Season award was only broken last term by Antonio Valencia; he has been named in the PFA Team of the Season for four of the last five seasons, and scooped Match of the Day’s Save of the Season every year from 2013 to 2016.
De Gea combines the two traits few goalkeepers ever get to boast at the time same: the capability of making gravity-defying saves, and yet also consistency that almost eradicates mistakes from his game. In short: the 27-year-old has everything.
1. Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)
Finally, in 2017, football fans began to sit up and take notice of the incredible job that Oblak has done as part of Atletico Madrid’s infamously mean backline. Why? Well, that defence isn’t so tough any more.
Atleti’s goalkeeper is now more vital than ever in the Diego Simeone era, and as those around him – namely Diego Godin and Juanfran – decline, Oblak continues to get even better.
The Slovenian has it all aged only 24: strong command of his penalty area, expert positioning, brilliant shot-stopping ability and all of it with unerring consistency. In October, he achieved his 50th clean sheet for Atletico, in only his 86th appearance for the Rojiblancos.
Oblate is arguably the best goalkeeper in the world right now – and might just stay there for a very long time.
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