When children play football at school, the appointed captains usually have the right to select the players for their teams. But once teams are formed, the dilemma inevitably ends up being who is going to be the goalkeeper. The goalie position has always been the least appealing to kids. No father would want his son to become a goalkeeper. The sports pages of newspapers are all for strikers and top scorers.
Only once in history has the Ballon d’Or been awarded to a goalkeeper. It was 1963 when the Black Spider Lev Yashin from Dynamo Moscow beat world class players such as Gianni Rivera from Milan, Dennis Law from Manchester United, and Eusebio from Benfica.
The role of goalkeeper has pretty much always been on the sidelines of football news, especially when it comes to the summer transfer market. But since the Champions League Final, and the World Cup in Russia, it looks like things may be changing. Just one week ago, three different clubs from the Spanish capital announced the signing of three new porteros on the same day…
Atlético Madrid hired Antonio Adán, who has performed well in the last four seasons at Real Betis. Adàn became famous when, as a product of Real Madrid’s youth academy, he was once selected by coach Jose Mourinho as the starting goalie in place of legend Iker Casillas, sparking a massive controversy among Santiago Bernabeu fans. However, this season he will most probably be back-up for the untouchable Jan Oblak.
Real Madrid, in line with their five-year trend of recruiting youngsters, secured the services of 19-year-old Ukrainian Andriy Lunin in a 10 million euro transfer from Zorya Luhansk. The young talent impressed with some memorable performances in the Europa League last season, especially in the fixture against Atletico Bilbao. Lunin will likely play at Real Madrid Castilla, the Blancos’ B Team who play in the Segunda División B. And, if he is to be the future of Real, the present could very well belong to Thibaut Courtois – who is rumored to be on the verge of transferring to Spain to defend the goal of the Bernabeu.
Madrid’s third club Getafe presented David Soria as their new keeper, probably impressed by his ousting to the bench of Sevilla teammate Sergio Rico. Coach Vincenzo Montella went as far as lining him up – in another controversial decision – in the recent Champions League quarter final against Bayern Munich, where he performed excellently.
The most shocking news of all concerning the goalkeeping market came from England, with Liverpool announcing the signing of Brazilian number one Alisson Becker on a 6-year contract. The Reds came to an agreement with Roma on a world-record transfer deal for a goalkeeper of 62.5 million euros, ahead of the 51 million euros paid by Juventus to snatch Gianluigi Buffon from Parma in 2001, and the 40 million paid when Ederson moved from Benfica to Manchester City last summer. Well, Loris Karius’ embarrassing performance during the last Champions League final probably left Liverpool with no option but to break the bank.
Considering that only a few weeks earlier Arsenal had announced the signing of Bernd Leno on a 22 million euro deal, this summer transfer market should be dubbed the window of the goalkeepers. Finally giving the role the prestige it deserves.
The list of keepers who changed their shirts in the summer is much longer: Pepe Reina left the south of Italy to join Milan. Legend Gianluigi Buffon decided to give his dream of lifting the Champions League trophy one last try, embarking on his first experience out of Italy at the age of 40. Buffon joined the multi-millionaires of Paris Saint Germain in a very symbolic move, especially now that Cristiano Ronaldo has landed in Turin and turned Juventus into one of the favorites for the tournament next season.
Russia 2018 was not a very fortunate World Cup for goalkeepers. Over the 30 days of the tournament, we saw some great performances, but even more incredible mistakes. This might have pushed more top European clubs to entrust their goals to safer hands.
Will they do well? Only on the pitch will we be able to tell for certain. But the question of is: who will turn out to be the best goalkeeping transfer of the summer?