Sat 20 February 2021 | 12:30

Most Expensive Goalkeepers of All Time

When it comes to goalkeepers, clubs are surprisingly stingy so let’s take a look at most expensive goalkeepers of all time and see how much actually is being spent on goalkeepers these days!

A good goalkeeper can always make a difference in a team’s fortune. In fact, you would seldom find a team that wins trophies without a great goalkeeper as they are that much integral in deciding the outcome of a match. With the way so many teams nowadays try to build their attack from the back, the need for goal keepers who are actually comfortable with the ball at their feed has risen and therefor the position has become even more vital.

So it’s peculiar to see how little Europe’s top clubs spend on goalkeepers in comparison to other positions. By our estimate the average money spent on the top 10 most expensive transfers of all time for defenders, midfielders and forwards are respectively £63.3m, £77m and £113.95m. Compare that to the £37.57m that is on average being spent on

most expensive goalkeepers of all time

, the players listed below, and you’ll see what we mean. So join us and let’s get to the bottom of this in this article:

Most Expensive Goalkeepers In Football History

As is usually the case, almost all of the most expensive goalkeepers in football history have had their transfers happen in the past decade, with only 2 goalkeepers transferring before that period. So let’s see who these players are:

10. Alex Meret (Napoli)

A native of Udine, Italy, this 23-year-old goalkeeper started his career at Udinese’s youth academy and he made his debut for Udinese in 2015.


was subsequently loaned at to SPAL for two seasons, before transferring to


permanently in 2018, becoming one of the

most expensive goalkeepers ever

. Although the move has not worked out the way he wanted it to, the Italian media and fans still have high hopes for his future.

Since joining Napoli in 2018, Meret has been involved in a rotational role with David Ospina, Napoli’s other goalkeeper. The situation isn’t that common, especially in modern football but nonetheless it has limited Meret’s first team action severly. He was even completely benched for an extended period last season since Gennaro Gattuso didn’t belive in his abilities, mainly to his inferior ball playing abilities to Ospina, but a wonderful performance in Coppa Italia final which earned Napoli the title has made him a rotational choice again.

With 13 clean sheets in his 40 Serie A matches, Meret could do well to perform to higher standards if he wishes to ever become a first-choice goalkeeper at the top level of European football. So far his alleged £23.40m transfer fee that Napoli paid Udinese back in July 2018 has not been justified as his level of performances are far below other most expensive goalkeepers of all time.


9. Francesco Toldo (Internazionale)

One of the finest Italian goalkeepers of all time and a Inter Milan and


legend is the actually the only retired player among the most valuable goalkeepers of all time. Toldo, who was born in 1971, actually started his career at Inter’s rivals, AC Milan, but his time there was mostly spent at loan and he gained prominence after he joined Fiorentina in 1993 and his subsequent transfer to Inter Milan. Toldo was one of the finest goalkeepers of his era, an era that had great goalkeepers like Gianluca Pagliuca, Christian Abbiati and Gianluigi Buffon. Late in his career he also became one of the most decorated Inter Milan players by winning 5 Serie A titles consecutively.

After spending spells at Hellas Verona, Trento and Ravenna on loan from AC Milan, Toldo joined


in 1993, helping them win promotion back to Serie A in his first season. He would go on to stay at Parma as a first choice goalkeeper for 8 seasons, winning 2 Coppa Italia during the period whilst being named Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year in 2000 and went on to be Italy’s first choice keeper as they reached the Euro 2000 final, which would be his biggest contribution to Italy’s national team during his 28 caps.

Then because of the financial hardships Fiorentina were facing they were forced to sell Toldo to Inter Milan for a fee of £23.85m in the summer of 2001. He was Inter’s first choice keeper in his first few seasons but right around the time


started winning the Serie A, he lost his place to Brazilian Cesar. Nonetheless, Toldo has become a fan favorite among Nerazzurri fans and with 5 Serie A titles, 4 Copa Italia trophies and a Champions League title, he is well deserving of being among the most expensive goalkeepers of all time.

8. Jordan Pickford (Everton)

Current England and Everton's No. 1,

Jordan Pickford

, is actually a product of Sunderland's youth academy and although things may seem to be going pretty well for the 26-year-old, in actuality he had to pay his dues to reach this stage of his career with him going on 6 different spells before finally becoming Sunderland's No. 1, where he subsequently became one of the most expensive goalkeepers ever by transferring to Everton in 2017.

Although hopes were high for Pickford to become that excellent goalkeeper England fans craved, things haven’t been exactly going his way. He is by all accounts an above average goalkeeper but his numbers haven’t impressed since joining the Toffees in 2017. Pickford’s standout season was definitely in 2018-19 when he kept 14 clean sheets in 38 matches for



While his 29 games in the 2016-17 season convinced Everton to pay Sunderland £25.65m for Pickford’s services, his 38 clean sheets in 131 EPL matches for Everton seems like an underwhelming return for someone who was once valued so highly. Even if we dismiss clean sheets as a team effort, Pickford’s individual performances leave a lot to be desired. Nonetheless, the 30-times capped Pickford is among the

most expensive goalkeepers of all time


7. Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)

There is hardly a trophy that

Manuel Neuer

hasn’t won. In fact the German might’ve won everything except the Europa League, on the account that didn’t play in the competition otherwise he might’ve won it. Since his Schalke 04 days and his subsequent transfer to

Bayern Munich

, which coincidentally made him one of the most valuable goalkeepers of all time, Neuer has become the best keeper of his generation and one of the best of all time.

In terms of approaching football as a goalkeeper, Neuer changed many things, mainly in regards to when and how a keeper should come out of his post and help the defenders, all of which has given rise to the term “sweeper keeper”. Besides his absolute genius in traditional goalkeeping skills, this sweeper keeper aspect of Neuer’s game is what many of the goalkeepers on this list try to emulate but no matter what they do, Neuer will always be the best at it!

A product of Schalke 04’s academy, Neuer went on to play for them fo 5 seasons between 2006 and 2011 before changing sides to Bayern Munich in a £27m transfer, which at the time made him the 2nd most expensive goalkeepers of all time behind Buffon. The 34-year-old has helped Bayern dominate Bundesliga since he got there in 2011, winning 8 Bundesliga titles, 5 DFB Pokals and 2 Champions League title that both came in a Treble winning season.

He has also won the World Cup with Germany in 2014 and has since set a record for most clean sheets for Germany. So considering all of this, it seems that Bayern got themselves an absolute bargain!

6. Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)

Former Atletico and Chelsea goalkeeper and current Real Madrid’s first choice keeper is none other than the Belgian Thibaut Courtois, who is one of the

highest paid goal keepers of all time.

The Belgian who started getting noticed by scouts when he was playing for Genk, spent 7 seasons at


starting from 2011 but he was loaned out for the majority of that period to Atletico Madrid, so he was no stranger to La Liga and Madrid when he joined Real Madrid in 2018.

Although Courtois had a rocky start to his Real Madrid career, registering only 8 clean sheets in his first season. the Belgian took a season to adjust himself to the situation and began turning in results in his second season, in which he won La Liga’s Golden Glove by keeping 18 clean sheets in 34 games, massively helping

Real Madrid

on their way to winning their record 34th La Liga title.

Courtois has continued his great form this season, keeping 10 clean sheets in 23 matches, which proves that Real Madrid made the right decision when they paid Chelsea £31.5m for Courtois’ services back in 2018, making the Belgian one of the most expensive goalkeepers of all time.

5. Jasper Cillessen (Valencia)

Perhaps if we had to pick a transfer flop among the most expensive goalkeepers in football history, it would be the transfer of Jasper Cillessen from


to Valencia at the start of 2019-20 season, which had Valencia’s goalkeeper Neto going the other way. The move was supposed to bring the Dutch keeper more game time but he has ended up losing his starting position at Valencia too and now with


well into his 2nd season and a couple of injuries in between, the future of the 31-year-old seems unclear.

After helping Valencia keep only 5 clean sheets in his 24 matches, Cillessen had a couple of injuries that kept him out for a total of 10 matches last season. This resulted in Jaume Domenech filling in his place, but upon Cillessen’s recovery, Domenech’s great performances had cemented his place as Valencia’s first choice keeper and Cillessen was forced out of the starting XI.

The situation hasn’t changed this season either and now with Cillessen injured and having a surgery which keeps him out until at least March of 2021, there doesn’t seem to be much hope for the Dutchman at Valencia, especially since he is on high wages too and Valencia is on a rather tight budget. This all makes his £31.5m transfer from Barcelona, in a strange deal that had Neto go the other way in a £26m deal, seem like a flop. It’s a flop that is even more apparent because of his high placement among the most expensive goalkeepers of all time.

4. Ederson (Manchester City)

Ederson Santana de Moraes, simply known as


, is definitely one of the finest goalkeepers around and it has been that way for the past several years. The 27-year-old Brazilian is perhaps the most consistent among the highest paid goal keepers of all time as we have rarely seen his performances and numbers drop. Despite being Brazilian, Ederson made his professional debut in Portugal’s Rio Ave and he moved to Benfica a few years later.

During his two seasons at Benfica, he impressed many of Europe’s big clubs, not only because of his natural goalkeeping talents but also because of his ease with the ball at his feet. His relaxed posture when his team was playing from the back and his great ball distribution convinced Pep Guardiola to bring him to

Manchester City

, where he was building his perfect team. And as is always the case with great players, Ederson seemed to quickly adapt to Man City’s style of playing and started turning in great performances.

Starting his debut season in 2017-18 with 17 clean sheets, Ederson has gone to, as of writing this article, make 76 clean sheets in 131 Premier League matches for Manchester City. That makes up a 58% clean sheet percentage, something that only the likes of Petr Cech have been able to do in the league.

So it’s fair to assume that Manchester City have made a sweet deal when they offered Benfica £36m for Ederson’s services in 2017, making him one of the most expensive goalkeepers of all time as he has helped them win 2 Premier League titles, 2 League Cup and 1 FA Cup trophies during his time with the Cityzens.

3. Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)

One of the giants of the game needs no introduction since we are all aware of

Gianluigi Buffon

’s immense talent and the incredible heights he has climbed to during his career, winning practically everything there is in football. The legendary goalkeeper was the

most expensive goalkeepers in football history

for 17 years between 2001 and 2018 and rightfully so as there a few goalkeepers that could perform on his level.

Making his professional debut for Parma in 1995 when he was only 17 years old, Buffon would go on to play for them for 6 seasons, helping Parma win the Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup in 1998-99 season. At this point Parma knew they had a generational talent on their hand so when clubs came calling, they asked for a steep price for acquiring Buffon’s services and credit to Juventus as they believed Buffon to be worth that sum and paid Parma a whopping £47.6m, which at the time made him the most expensive goalkeepers of all time.


’ gamble paid off and Buffon became the legend he is today, winning a record 10 Serie A titles and 4 Coppa Italia trophies in his 19 seasons with the club. He has also won the World Cup in 2006 and has appeared in Champions League final 3 times, although he never won the competition. We could go on and on about his individual achievements and accolades but suffice it to say there are only a handful of goalkeepers in the history of football that could rival Gianluigi Buffon and it’s hard to find any goalkeeper more deserving of such a high transfer fee than him!

2. Alisson Becker (Liverpool)

The second Brazilian among the

most valuable goalkeepers of all time

is Liverpool’s

Alisson Becker

, who unlike his compatriot Ederson came to Premier League in 2018. Tasked with the goal of winning the Premier League and on the back of a nightmarish Champions League final riddled with mistakes from


’s Keeper Loris Karius, Jurgen Klopp was determined to find a goalkeeper that suited his team’s style of playing. Enter Alisson Becker, who impressed Europe’s top clubs in his two season tenure with AS Roma.

Much like Ederson, Becker is comfortable playing from the back, maybe sometimes too comfortable which has led to strange mistakes from the 28-year-old. He is a complete and modern goalkeeper and acts as a sweeper keeper or a ball distributor when needed.

Together with Virgil van Dijk, Alisson helped shore up Liverpool’s defenses and eventually lead them to a Champions League title in his debut season and a long awaited Premier League title in his second season.Since making his debut against West Ham in August of 2018, Alisson Becker has gone on to keep 41 clean sheets in 87 league matches, which brings his clean sheet percentage to 47%.

Although in his first season he won the Golden Glove by keeping 21 clean sheets, his numbers in this season has not been up to his usual standards as he has only kept 5 clean sheets in 20 matches this season, making several horrendous mistakes along the way. Despite all of this no one can deny the big role Alisson has played in Liverpool’s recent success since his hefty £56.25m transfer from AS Roma to Liverpool which has made him one of the Most expensive goalkeepers of all time.

1. Kepa Arizzabalaga (Chelsea)

Perhaps the biggest blow to Kepa Arrizabalaga’s career is him being the most expensive goalkeepers in football history. the label is notoriously hard to live up to, especially when you have players like Manuel Neuer or Gianluigi Buffon or even contemporaries like Alisson Becker sit below you. Unfortunately for Kepa this has put his performances and his every mistake under the microscope and he hasn’t coped with the pressure all that well, seeing that he is currently glued to Chelsea’s bench with no apparent future at the club.

After Chelsea lost their excellent goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid in 2018, they were desperate to replace him with an almost equally good goalkeeper which is near impossible. Nevertheless, Chelsea moved for

Athletic Bilbao

’s young goalkeeper Kepa and since the Bosque club were not keen to negotiate a deal, Chelsea ended up paying Kepa’s release clause of £72m which instantly made him the

most expensive goalkeepers of all time

. The decision by Chelsea to pay that amount for a relatively unknown goalkeeper has been since described as a panic move.

But everything didn’t start that bad since


finished his debut season keeping 14 clean sheets, being the league’s 3rd best keeper in that regard, only behind Alisson and Ederson. But it was in his 2nd season that cracks started to appear as his records with shots was horrendous.

The fact that Frank Lampard didn’t believe in him didn’t help his confidence either and so his journey to become a benchwarmer at Chelsea soon reached its final destination when Edouard Mendy arrived at Chelsea last summer. Despite his price tag, Kepa seems to have no future at Chelsea and must leave the club in order to save his career.


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