But the 2018/19 season has seen a dip in form from both – in the case of Neuer, an injury-curtailed campaign as well – and the duo have been caught up by the rest of a talented group of shot-stoppers.
The emergence of an excellent goalkeeping class has led to some stunning displays on the top stage from the likes of Jan Oblak and Marc-Andre ter Stegen, and several others have made their case this season.
Were any able to overtake the established duo of De Gea and Neuer? Take a look in our tiered rankings for the best keeper.
Jan Oblak, Atletico Madrid
A remarkable stat emerged after Atletico Madrid’s derby draw with Real Madrid in September: at that point, Oblak had kept more clean sheets, 72, than he’d conceded goals, 71, since the start of the 2014/15 season, when he joined the Rojiblanco.
That sort of form was unsustainable – for the record, the numbers are now 91 clean sheets and 96 goals conceded, so in theory, if he kept a clean sheet in all five of Atletico’s remaining games this season, he’d end the campaign with those numbers level – but it just shows the level he’s reached in recent years.
The Slovenian has tied himself down to another four years at the club and that could well be Diego Simeone’s best signing in 2019.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Barcelona
There’s no doubting who Barcelona‘s best player is. And at the moment, there are probably few questions over the identity of their second-best. What it means for the club that it happens to be their goalkeeper is something Barca’s hierarchy should consider, but in the meantime, they can marvel at how good Ter Stegen’s become.
Several times over the last two seasons, he’s single-handedly kept them in, or even won them, games where they were below-par. The list of goalkeepers with that ability is short.
His reading of the game, distribution, and shot-stopping ability make him the perfect Barca keeper. It’s only a matter of time before he usurps Neuer for Germany – an achievement in itself.
David de Gea, Manchester United
That even in a bad year, De Gea’s standing among his peers only goes from top-one to top-four shows just how good he’s been over the last two or three seasons.
Yet there’s no question that his form has dipped. It started at last year’s World Cup, with a howler in Spain’s first game against Portugal, and since then he’s not looked the same as the unbeatable, superhuman man between the posts that he’d been before.
Manchester United‘s poor defence hasn’t helped, but De Gea is making errors that no one would expect. Yet, he can still put up performances like the one he produced in United’s 1-0 win over Tottenham, when he made 11 saves in the second half.
Alisson’s reign as the most expensive goalkeeper in football history lasted less than a month. No matter, however, as he’s since made Chelsea’s decision to pay more for Kepa Arrizabalaga than Liverpool paid for him look like quite the blunder.
Having Virgil van Dijk in front of him is no doubt a huge asset, and the former Roma man has had his share of nervy moments in his first season in the Premier League.
Yet at times this season his form made him look like the best goalkeeper in the world, not merely a top-five candidate. And he’s looking good to win the Golden Glove in his debut season.
Ederson, Man City
Ederson had already proved last season that he was the perfect Pep Guardiola goalkeeper, as he was part of a league-leading rearguard in the first Premier League team to amass 100 points in a season.
There are still moments when his ability purely as a shot-stopper come under scrutiny. He’s been guilty of letting in some soft goals that those above him in this list would almost always keep out.
Of course, when you have a goalkeeper who can not only cut out attacks playing as an auxiliary fifth defender, but ping passes all across the pitch and even directly assist a goal, some errors can be tolerated.
Thibaut Courtois, Real Madrid
Thibaut Courtois won the Golden Glove award at last year’s World Cup, and soon after, secured a dream move to Real Madrid. It was the perfect summer.
The season since hasn’t quite lived up to that form, as his debut campaign for Los Blancos has been a mixed bag. At times the Belgian produces saves that reminds everyone of his class, but he’s also been partly responsible for a few shambolic results, such as the 5-1 loss to Barcelona.
It looks like he will enter next season as Madrid’s first-choice keeper, which will give him a chance to restore his reputation.
Samir Handanovic, Inter
Samir Handanovic continues to quietly go about his business at Inter, flying under the radar compared to the more feted goalkeepers in Europe but still anchoring one of Italy’s best defences.
He’s likely to end the season with the most clean sheets in the league, and potentially his third Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year award – only Gianluigi Buffon, with a whopping 12, would have more.
The Slovenian is some distance short of the form of a few seasons ago, when he would have been higher up in this list, but the newly-installed Inter captain remains one of the best at his position.
Keylor Navas, Real Madrid
It’s been a frustrating season for Keylor Navas, one that perhaps symbolises his entire Real Madrid career since joining the club in 2014.
Infamously, Navas was left in tears at the airport in 2015 as Madrid looked to have sealed a move for De Gea, only for that to fall through. The Costa Rican then persevered as the team’s No1 as Los Blancos made history, winning three straight Champions League titles with Navas between the goalposts.
Last summer the arrival of Courtois and a subsequent demotion, for Navas, who’s made only 15 appearances this season. He’s managed just four clean sheets – though that’s a similar rate to Courtois, who has 10 in 30 appearances. Perhaps there’s not much difference between the two.
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