To finish off our series of looking at some of the more exciting young talents in Europe, here we take a look at best young goalkeepers of 2020. So let’s find out who they are?!
Nowadays having a great academy or finding great young talented players is almost an obligation for any club that wants to be successful, and with the massive improvement of academies all across Europe and even the World, every year a lot of new young players are found and it is no different when it comes to goalkeepers. So we have taken a look back at the year that we just put behind to see who are these best young goalkeepers of 2020 and how did they earn that title?!
The position of a goalkeeper is a bit different than the outfield positions in that even at a young age, goalkeepers must show maturity as well as have talent to be considered as a first team player, since so much of great goalkeeping is based on experience and game time. So the definition of a young or even a wonderkid goalkeeper differs from that of outfield players. So with that in mind, let’s see who are these great shot-stoppers that make up the best young GK of 2020 list:
Unlike the outfield young players, who sometimes are established players before they are even 20, goalkeepers usually develop a little later in their career, because so much of their job is about having game experiences, so as a result many of the goalkeepers are older than 20 years-old but we have made sure that all the greatest young goalkeepers of 2020 we chose are under 23 years old. So without further ado here they are:
Florian Muller is surprisingly the only German to appear on our list of goalkeeper talents of 2020. Surprising due to the fact that German football are known for having great goalkeepers, and they still do, but not as many in the age group that we are basing our list on, at least not as far as established goalkeepers are concerned. Nonetheless, SC Freiburg’s Florian Muller, who also won a Bundesliga Save of the Month award last season, makes it into our list.
Muller, who was a Saarbrucken and later Mainz 05 academy player, spent the last season at Mainz 05 but since start of this season he has been loaned out to Freiburg. The young German goalkeeper did get playing time at Mainz but since he could not start every match, seeing that he only made 13 appearances in Bundesliga last season, he had to leave in order to get a starting place somewhere else, and Freiburg seemed like the perfect place because he has already made as much appearances as last season.
Germans have a tradition of developing great goalkeepers and Florian Muller could very well be one of them as he is certainly one of the best young goalkeepers of 2020 but like many young keepers he has a lot of room to improve, namely his long passing. He seems to be a great shot stopper though as he has made 38 saves this season in addition to the 41 saves he made last season. Muller even won a Bundesliga Save of the Month in the March of 2019 with a triple save against Wolfsburg which boasts of his potential.
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Ligue 1 is known for developing young players and it’s no different when it comes to developing best young GK of 2020, as there are several French goalkeepers on our list. In the case of Paul Bernardoni, it’s to be said that the goalkeeper is very well respected by the French FA, as he has played for France in every age group except the senior side and for a country that has such a robust academy system that has provided the world with some of its best players achieving such a thing speaks volumes about Paul Bernardoni potential as a goalkeeper.
Although Bernardoni is still fairly young, he has had a lot of experiences playing for several clubs at different levels of French football. He was a Troyes academy player and after making an impression in the first team, he joined Bordeaux in 2016, where he stayed for 4 seasons but only made 7 Ligue 1 appearances for Bordeaux since much of his time was spent being loaned out to first Clermont and then 2 seasons at Nimes. He eventually joined Angers OSC on a permanent deal at the start of this season.
Paul Bernardoni played 25 games last season for Nimes, saved 69 shots, with a 0.67 save per shot ratio, and also made 6 clean sheets. He was one of the standout young stars of Ligue 1 last season, especially for a goalkeeper, and he has continued with the same level of performances this season, with 45 saves out of 70 shots faced and 4 clean sheets so far. His development and kind of silent rivalry that he has with another fellow best young goalkeepers of 2020, Gautier Larsonneur, will be interesting to watch as the two are fairly close in the level they perform and will eventually battle for being the No. 1 for the Les Bleus.
The Indonesian-born Emil Audero is currently Sampdoria’s No.1 but he did not achieve this, as well as being called one of the best goalkeeper talents of 2020, easily as he had to climb the development ladders of Italian football step by step. The 23 year-old, who is by now an established Serie A goalkeeper, started his footballing career at Juventus’ youth academy and it was there that he earned his first senior appearance.
As was the case with many Juventus goalkeepers over the years, the shadow of Gianluiggi Buffon was long so in order to develop further as a player, Audero had to leave Juventus, which he did in 2017 when he joined the Serie B side Venezia. After a successful season at Venezia, Audero was loaned out again, this time with an option to buy, and he joined Sampdoria. Which was where he truly shined and got his contract permanent by the end of the season.
Since the nature of the teams he has been, which means he faces a lot of shots each match, Audero has developed a high concentration which allows him to always be ready to save a shot. In fact, he has saved 153 shots on target in the previous and this ongoing season combined. Although he has a lot of room to improve and his performances in this season particularly haven’t been that great, there is no doubt the potential he has as a goalkeeper. Which has even prompted UEFA in 2019 to name him one of the most promising European players.
With 9 clean sheets from last season and the 153 saves he had had since joining Sampdoria permanently, Emil Audero is certainly one of the best young goalkeepers of 2020, who can improve even further in the years to come and develop into a world class goalkeeper and even contend for Italy’s much sought after No. 1 spot.
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Another goalkeeper from the Bundesliga but this time a Swiss U21 International, Gregor Kobel, who alongside another one of the best potential goalkeepers of 2020, Florian Muller, established himself as a potentially great goalkeeper back in 2018-19 season. In order to get a proper starting positon, Kobel joined Stuttgart last season, where they played at 2. Budnesliga and recorded 11 clean sheets to help them reach Bundesliga again and Kobel seems to be stronger than ever this season.
Kobel started his career in his own country at the Zurich based club Grasshoppers but he soon joined Hoffenheim in Germany to develop further as a goalkeeper and get a chance of playing at Bundesliga, but his chances were scarce at Hoffenheim and despite playing for Hoffenheim II regularly, he only made 1 appearance for the first team. So as a result he was loaned out to Augsburg in 2019, where he showed his talents and then a subsequent loan to Stuttgart which were at 2. Bundesliga and in need of a keeper.
Kobel’s move to Stuttgart seemed to work out for him pretty well as he became a regular and even made his deal with them permanent at the start of this season. Although 2. Bundesliga stats are not comparable to Bundesliga itself, it has to be noted that Kobel was great there.
As he has been great from the start of this season with 42 saves and an amazing 0.7 save per shots faced record, which boasts of his concentration and shot stopping ability, although much like Muller he can do well to work on his long passing and the ability to build up play. It’s clear that Gregor Kobel as one of the best young goalkeepers of 2020 has a bright future ahead of him and we’ll have to see where it takes him.
Another French goalkeeper on our list is the talented Gautier Larsonneur, who is deemed by many to be French’s future No. 1. Larsonneur’s performances, in the 2019-20 season specially, garnered a lot of attention towards the young Frenchman and deservedly so as he is one of the current best young goalkeepers in the world. Although because most of his career has been at Ligue 2, he has not represented France at youth levels that much.
Larsonneur is a product of Stade Brest’s own youth academy and has been playing there ever since, though they only recently got promoted to Ligue 1 as of last season and managed the difficult feat of staying up in the Ligue 1, which was in huge parts due to Larsonneur’s amazing performances in the goal. Performances that turned the head of many big clubs and their scouts to keep a closer watch at the young Frenchmen. In fact, he was one of the top performers among Ligue 1 goalkeepers last season with his shot stopping ability being of particular note.
Last season Gautier was only 5th in the amount of saves made for any keeper that played over 20 games. He made 95 saves with an incredible record of 0.76 saves per shots that he faced as well as managing 7 clean sheets. Although his performances have dropped a bit this season, which may be because of his team’s situation, he still has managed to make 51 saves and also 3 clean sheets.
Larsonneur has already a reputation for being a great shot stopper and if he continues to improve like he has in the past couple of seasons it will only be a matter of time when a big club comes to sign him. But for now he comfortably makes our list of best young goalkeepers of 2020.
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The only Spanish goalkeeper on our list is Athletic Bilbao’s Unai Simon, who impressed everyone last year with his quality performances and although he has not been as great this season so far, the potential he has as one of the wonderkid goalkeepers of 2020 promises of a great future for Unai Simon and may even see him as Spain’s No. 1 in the near future.
After the departure of Kepa from Athletic Bilbao, Unai Simon stepped up to fill his place and just like Kepa, he started impressing people with his skills at a young age. A native of Basque country and a product of Bilbao’s youth academy, Simon started his senior career at Basconia before joining Bilbao’s reserves team. And after playing regularly there and an injury crisis in the first team, Simon was called up to Athletic Bilbao and soon started his first game in 2018, with his third and most notable match being a 1-1 result against Real Madrid where he was named Man of the Match.
But at the start of last season he was given the No. 1 and became the regular starter, impressing everyone with his performances by keeping an incredible 12 clean sheets and the amazing record of 0.77 saves per shots faced. At the end of the season he was the 3rd in the Zamora award ranking which is given to the best goalkeeper. Despite having an off season in 2020-2021 so far, Simon was given his first start for Spain’s senior side on the November of 2020. As one of the breakout stars of the 2019-20 season, Simon deservedly gets a mention in our list of best young goalkeepers of 2020.
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The youngest player among our list of best young GK of 2020 is yet another Frenchman and this time it’s Leeds United’s Illan Meslier who, just like his team, has impressed the everyone since being promoted to the Premier League. But even before getting to the Premier League, Meslier, serious impressed at the tail end of last season where he made his debut for Leeds and kept and incredible 7 clean sheets in the 10 games he appeared in, helping Leeds to become Champions.
But his career started in his home country at Lorient, which is a club known for developing great young players. He made 28 league appearances for Lorient before joining Leeds United last year, though initially on loan. The deal was made permanent after the aforementioned run of 7 clean sheets in 10 games and as of July of 2020.
This season however, Meslier talents were more on the spotlight since Leeds got promoted to the Premier League. He holds an impressive record of 0.7 saves per shots faced and has made 59 shots overall. He also has helped Leeds United keep 6 clean sheets in the 16 matches he has played so far this season.
Although his stats may not reflect his skills fully as Leeds are known for their attacking football and being involved in high scoring games and not being as defensively sound as some of the other teams in the league, which can mean he would’ve probably perfomed a lot better if he was part of a more defensively sound team. But nonetheless, even now he is certainly one of the best young goalkeepers of 2020 and perhaps the most exciting player on this list to watch.
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One of the more established and proven players on our list of current best young goalkeepers is Manchester United’s own academy product, Dean Henderson, who more than proved his skills as a goalkeeper in 2 seasons that he spent on loan with Sheffield United. As he won their Young Player of the Season twice and also help them first be promoted to the Premier League and then stay in it. At 23 Henderson is already a world class goalkeeper and one of goalkeeper talents of 2020.
However, the road to become a great goalkeeper did not go as smoothly as some might think because despite being always a Manchester United player and academy graduate, Henderson has been on several numerous loan spells, starting from lower leagues and working his way up to his final loan spell at Sheffield United in 2018. Although Manchester United always knew that they had a talent in their hands with Henderson and had to just make sure he gets enough experience to develop properly.
Henderson impressed fans so much in his first season at Sheffield United that they chose him as their Player of the Season after kept an incredible 20 clean sheets in 46 matches. And he proved his skills again when he kept 13 clean sheets in the 2019-20 Premier League season, exactly the amount Manchtester United’s own goalkeeper de Gea made. And with 97 saves he was third in the saves per shot ratio ranking by having 0.75 record.
Although since the start of this season after rejoining Manchester United, he has become a backup for David de Gea, his potential as a great goalkeeper has already been proven and he is certainly one of the best young goalkeepers of 2020. All he has to do now is to take his chances and get a starting position at Manchester United!
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One could not talk about best young goalkeepers of 2020 or even best goalkeepers in football in general without mentioning AC Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma, who has proven season after season why he is a goalkeeper that is so highly sought after and 2020 was no different for him in terms of the performances he put in for Milan. Although Milan fans may be not entirely delighted about how his contract situation, which expires at the end of this season, is developing, they are surly delighted that they have a great goalkeeper again.
Donnarumma, who became Milan’s first choice goalkeeper at just 16 years of age in 2015, has all the abilities one needs to have to be a great goalkeeper. Despite his great height (1.96), he is really agile. He also has a great concentration and composure, often leading his team from the back perhaps his most apparent ability besides his shot stopping is his ability to save penalties which is just extraordinary as he has saved 13 penalties in his senior career.
In terms of his performances in2020 goes, Donnarumma was third in the most amount of clean sheets kept last season with 12 saves and he also made 97 saves with 0.716 saves per shots faced record. And this year despite keeping only 4 clean sheets, largely due to the more attacking nature of AC Milan’s playing style which leaves the defense exposed, Donnarumma has made 32 saves out of 43 shots he has faced. At 21 years old, Donnarumma has really nothing to prove to be one of the best young goalkeepers of 2020, as he is already one of the world’s greatest goalkeepers!