Player Analysis: Mike Maignan, the New Milan Goalkeeper

Milan are one of the first Serie A clubs to strike in the transfer market this summer, as the runners-up for the 2020-21 season have completed the signing of French goalkeeper Mike Maignan. The 25-year-old has joined Milan as French champion after helping Lille to their first Ligue 1 title in a decade.

The Frenchman has been brought in to replace Gianluigi Donnarumma, who has decided not to renew his contract and will leave the club on a free transfer. The former PSG youth keeper has signed a five-year contract with the Rossoneri and will be Milan’s new number one from the new season.

Replacing the outgoing Donnarumma was one of the priorities of Milan’s technical director Paolo Maldini; therefore, we analyze the Rossoneri’s latest signing and discuss whether the Frenchman is good enough to fill Donnarumma’s gloves.

Player Overview

Born on July 3, 1995 in Cayenne, French Guiana, Maignan joined PSG’s youth team at the age of 14, where he played for 6 years. During that time, he made 42 appearances in lower leagues of French football and also participated in the 2013-14 UEFA Youth League in which PSG reached the Quarter-Finals stage.

Maignan signed his first professional contract with PSG in 2013 but failed to make the step up to the first team, being called up to the match-day squad only once and not making a single appearance. As a result, the French goalkeeper moved to Lille in 2015 on a 5-year contract and made his debut a month later against Rennes.

After making just 7 league appearances in his first two seasons, Maignan established himself as a regular goalkeeper in Ligue 1 in the 2017-18 season. He played 34 games that season, keeping 6 clean sheets, and remained Lille’s first choice between the posts for the next 3 seasons.

Graphical representation of Maignan’s transfer value over the years. Photo:

Player Profile

Maignan is a 25-year-old French goalkeeper who has just signed for Serie A club Milan. Standing at 191cm tall and weighing 89kg, the Rossoneri’s new keeper is powerfully built and possesses all the key qualities a top goalkeeper must have in his locker. Top-class reflexes, including saving shots from distance and close range, good positional sense, sweeping and cross stopping ability, as well as good anticipation when coming off his line are Maignan’s best goalkeeping attributes.

In the 2020-21 season, Maignan was in the starting XI in all 38 Ligue 1 games. He conceded only 23 goals and kept a remarkable 21 clean sheets (55% of games).

Maignan’s 2020-21 Ligue 1 heat map. Photo:

The most important job of a goalkeeper is to stop the opposition players’ shots entering his goal. The ability to do this on a consistent basis is indicative of a solid shot-stopper, and Maignan is certainly one of the best in this regard.

The newly recruited Milan keeper recorded a +2.8 last season, the second-best ratio of PSxG/SOT (post-shot expected goals per shot on target) minus GA (goals allowed), with only Keylor Navas registering a better ratio at +4 (PSxG/SOT 22; goals allowed 18). This means that Maignan conceded 3 fewer goals than he was expected based on the difficulty of the shots he faced. Furthermore, it is worth noting that Navas played 9 fewer games than Maignan in Ligue 1 last season, suggesting that the former Lille keeper might have topped the table.

Post-shot expected goals per shot on target (PSxG/SOT) and goals conceded statistical analysis. Ligue 1 2020-21 season

The fact that Maignan is an excellent shot-stopper is also shown by the ratio of shots on target against and saves made. The French keeper conceded an average of 2.82 shots per game in Ligue 1 last season. Only Benjamin Lecomte of Monaco faced fewer shots against (2.21) from goalkeepers who made at least 20 appearances. Despite having faced the second lowest number of shots on target against at 2.82, Maignan made an average of 2.26 saves per game, a save rate of 79.4% – behind only Navas with an 80.9% save rate.

Shots on target against and saves made statistical analysis. Ligue 1 2020-21 season

In addition to his shot stopping ability, Maignan excels in other areas of goalkeeping: sweeping and claiming crosses are the two stand out metrics in the Frenchman’s game. His athleticism, including pace, power and frame, allows him to dominate his penalty area very effectively, as Maignan is also very aggressive coming off his line or even acting as a sweeper outside the box (see heat map above). To put this in perspective, Maignan stopped the fourth highest number of crosses last season with 23 out of 286, representing 8% of crosses successfully stopped into the penalty area. Furthermore, he was the sixthbest for making defensive actions outside the penalty area at 0.68.

Defensive actions outside of penalty area (OPA) and stopped crosses (%) statistical analysis. Ligue 1 2020-21 season

Maignan vs Donnarumma

To try to assess which goalkeeper, Maignan or Donnarumma, is better at this stage of their career, we dive deeper into individual statistical analysis comparison. At first glance, neither the Frenchman nor the Italian appears to be exceptionally better than the other in any of the goalkeeping metrics.

Nonetheless, when analyzed, Maignan seems to be slightly ahead of Donnarumma in terms of preventing goals against, as he has a better score than the former Milan keeper with +0.06 PSxG (post-shot expected goals) minus GA (goals allowed). This means that Maignan saved an average of 0.06 more goals than Donnarumma per 90 minutes above expected.

As discussed above, the former Lille shot-stopper also recorded a better save percentage rate last season (79.4%); however, the Frenchman had to face fewer shots on target against (2.82) than Donnarumma (3.38), and the shots were less dangerous, resulting in an average of 0.23 PSxG/SOT (post-shot expected goals per shot on target) compared to Donnarumma’s 0.30.

Statistical comparison of Maignan and Donnarumma in the 2020-21 season. *Stats are listed in values per 90 minutes played


Our analysis shows that Maignan is one of the best up-and-coming goalkeepers in world football. As we can see from the charts, he is currently one of the best performing shot-stoppers in Europe, and he will only improve with experience.