The gloves are on in the race for the most clean sheets

The gloves are on in the race for the most clean sheets

The fact that Gianluigi Buffon’s transfer to Juventus from Parma in 2001 is still the third most expensive goalkeeper ever perfectly illustrates how unappreciated goalkeepers still are in the game. Defence commanders are always in the shadows of all the players in the outfield, getting their spot under the lights briefly with unbelievable saves. While they do have their individual competitions’, they don’t get recognized as much as the top player’s or goalscorers.

But like the goalscorers, the keepers have their own metric that isn’t left for interpretation. The number of clean sheets. There is no popularity contest that affects this aspect of the game.

While of course, the whole defence, or the whole team, does the job together, the same thing could apply for the strikers and their goals. All the assists and the blocks and the drawing away of the guardians don’t get as credited as the goalscoring and rightfully so, as it is the hardest part. But so do the goalkeepers for keeping the net intact. But there should be a balance when looking at the individual feats and looking at the clean sheet race is one step into appreciating the men between the posts.

Goalkeepers with the most clean sheets in the 2020/2021 season

Unlike in the Golden Shoe race where Robert Lewandowski is looking to dominate despite playing in the shorter Bundesliga, the goalkeepers are having an evenly contested competition.

Peter Gulasci (RB Leipzig) - 10 clean sheets

Breaking the stereotype that goalkeepers enter their prime only when in their fourth decade, the Hungarian Peter Gulasci is one of only three players on this list of keepers with the most clean sheets that has blown out the 30th birthday candle.

Playing for the high-pressing and attacking RB Leipzig, Gulasci's 10 clean sheets in 21 Bundesliga games is impressive. He conceded 18 goals so far and has a ratio of 0.86 conceded goals per match, with a clean sheet percentage of 47.6%.

Edouard Mendy (Chelsea) - 10 clean sheets

Chelsea's panic purchase when the world’s most expensive goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga turned out to be a flop has been on and off. But the clean sheet numbers suggest otherwise as the former Stade Rennes player kept his net intact on 50% of occasions in his 20 appearances. Noting that he did play one game for the French team in Ligue 1 but conceded a goal. At Chelsea, he conceded 15 goals in the other 10 games. Overall, his goal conceded per match ratio is 0.80 but there are still rumours the 28-year-old is not a long-term solution and that the Blues are locking in Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Benoit Costil (Bordeaux) - 11 clean sheets

Another of the rare thirty-something-year-olds on this list of top goalkeepers with most clean sheets. Benoit Costil has been a common name across Europe yet staying for the entirety of his career in France, yet getting only one cap in the tough competition. Keeping 11 clean sheets in 24 matches is enough for the worst percentage of games where the strikers were kept shut of these select few. But the 45.8% is not bad, yet the 29 conceded goals for a ratio of 1.21 goals conceded per match is. Meaning that the Frenchman concedes a goal every 74 minutes on average which isn’t that bad for a mid-table side to be realistic.

Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid) - 11 clean sheets 

Somewhat surprisingly ranked in the middle of the top keepers with the cleanest sheets, as Jan Oblak was placed around the very peak in previous seasons even when his team wasn't first in the league. Now, Atleti are cruising but the Slovenian isn't doing that bad too, only slightly below his incredibly high standards.

The 28-year-old Oblak recorded 11 clean sheets in 21 games for a percentage of 52.4% of games without taking the ball out of the net. He conceded only 13 goals for a goal-conceding ratio of 0.62 per La Liga game

Keylor Navas (Paris Saint-Germain) - 11 clean sheets

Not at the very top of the list of the goalkeepers in Europe with the most clean sheets but the oldest man on this little breakdown is very impressive. He doesn't have the most clean sheets but that is perhaps only because he played in just 16 games so far. Making his 11 clean sheets kept for a ratio of 68.8%! The highest amongst the select few.

The Costarican also conceded mere 0.44 goals per game on average, a goal every 199 minutes he spent on the pitch. Showing he is far from being done and that PSG got a great deal when taking him from Real Madrid.

Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa) - 12 clean sheets

Probably the most surprising inclusion on the list of goalkeepers with the most clean sheets. Arsenal's long time loanee has permanently moved to the last-year relegation battle team Aston Villa and helped a great deal. Now the team has been one of the dark horses for a spot in Europe and while the limelight is mostly (and justifiably) on Jack Grealish, the right-footed Messi as Emi said, Martinez also deserves plaudits.

In 22 Premier League games he kept his net intact on 12 occasions, a percentage of 54.5%. Yet, playing for a mid-table side did show as he conceded the second-highest number of goals out of the keepers we presented in this breakdown - 24. Still, the €17,400,000 signing has finally made a big step in his career aged 28.

Mike Maignan (Lille) - 13 clean sheets

Certainly the least known name among these top goalkeepers competing in Europe’s top five leagues. Mike Maignan is 25 and hence the youngest out of all his colleagues mentioned on this breakdown of goalies with the most clean sheets. In 24 Ligue 1 games, Maignan kept his net from moving on 13 occasions, a percentage of 54.2%. Keeping Lille's tradition of being a tough team to score for several managers running, Maignan conceded only 15 goals too, 0.63 per game. Meaning he had to take the ball out of the net with his head down every 144 minutes on average.

Ederson (Manchester City) - 14 clean sheets

Enjoying his team’s renaissance after they were prematurely written off, Ederson is so secure in his primary job that he is imploring Pep Guardiola that he lets him shoot penalties too. With 14 games without conceding a goal in 22 games of the English first division total, Ederson is the goalkeeper with the most clean sheets in the 2020/2021 season so far. His percentage ratio is second amongst these select keepers, at 63.6%. With only 13 goals conceded, he is second in that regard as well. A goal conceded per match ratio of 0.59. But considering he is competing in a far more competitive league than Navas, his feat is complete.

The Brazilian has only seven caps for his national team, but the way his Premier League competition and compatriot Alisson is performing this year, he could very well be the choice for the upcoming games and tournaments.

Honourable mentions for goalkeepers with the most clean sheets in this season go to Sevilla's Bono who played in 19 games, Thibaut Courtois of Real Madrid and his 22 games played, Anthony Lopes of Lyon as another Ligue 1 representative with 25 games. As well as Kasper Schmeichel of Leicester City who played in 24 league games this season.

All of them have nine clean sheets so far and are definitely in the mix for the top 10 goalkeepers of the season per clean sheets. A list which we will be making come the end of the campaign.


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