With the abundance of top flight fixtures – with some teams playing over 60 games a season – the role and importance of the backup goalkeeper is getting bigger and bigger.
No longer do they just play in meaningless friendlies or only when the first choice goalkeeper is injured – some are given starts in certain competitions like the Community Shield or the Super Cup while others are given runs in the FA Cup. Some even rotate with another goalkeeper during the league season – such has become their importance in keeping things fresh and competitive.
And so, here’s a look at three of the best backup goalkeepers in world football.
The former Liverpool goalkeeper is one of the most decorated footballers currently playing today. Having won ten top level trophies such as the World Cup, European Championship, FA Cup, Coppa Italia and more, Reina has played in a variety of competitions and leagues.
His experience and overall quality then, is a great boost to Bayern Munich where he moved this past summer. While it’s highly unlikely that the 32-year-old would ever displace Manuel Neuer from the starting eleven, if there is a need for the German to take a break, they have a quality goalkeeper to take the reigns.
As for Reina, after some good years at the top level, is now more than likely to win a bundle of trophies while getting paid handsomely. Not bad for a player in his thirties.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen
The hot German prospect signed for Barcelona with plans to replace Victor Valdes for the next decade. However, an early pre-season injury saw fellow goalkeeper signing, Claudio Bravo take the spot between the posts and deputise ever since.
It didn’t help ter Stegen’s case that the Chilean would eventually go on to make a new La Liga record for most minutes without conceding but the German has played in every Champions League game so far.
Aside from an error against PSG, ter Stegen has been pretty solid in his limited showings, conceding 5 goals in 6 games – or counting the game at the Parc des Princes aside, 2 goals in 5 games. And at 22-years-old, the German has all the time in the world to succeed or even overtake Bravo in the pecking order.
But for now, Barcelona have one of the most exciting German goalkeepers as their backup goalkeeper which doesn’t seem too bad after having Jose Pinto in that role for so many years.
While many thought he’d been signed to be the new number one, Costa Rican goalkeeper, Keylor Navas has played second fiddle to Iker Casillas for Real Madrid this season. Los Blancos – who are currently on a 22 win run – have simply been on fire this season and to have a goalkeeper of Navas’ quality only highlights their strength in depth.
The Costa Rican had impressed for Levante in the 2013/2014 season and then went on to become one of the top performers of the World Cup, helping his national team reach the quarterfinals.
Unlike the other goalkeepers on this list though, Navas has played in the league and Champions League, conceding 3 goals in 5 games in all competitions, leaving a good impression overall.
Current number one, Iker Casillas is 33-years-old and while Navas is only five years younger, he could very well become the main man. However for now, he’ll have to make due with being one of the best backup goalkeepers in world football.
Honourable mentions: Petr Cech, David Ospina, Willy Caballero and Michel Vorm.