Premier League teams have inconsistently signed world-class goalkeepers over the last decade to man their goals. In the last two seasons, however, Premier League teams’ investments in top-class, prove or semi-proven goalkeepers is paying off. While Chelsea had previously had Thibaut Courtois on their books and Manchester United had signed David De Gea from Atletico Madrid, there were still gaps at the back for other top English teams.
In 2017, seeing a need for a goalkeeper capable of making great saves and distributing from the back, Manchester City paid Benfica £36 million for Ederson. The Brazilian recorded 16 cleans sheets, two behind De Gea in his first season at the Etihad.
The top four leaders in clean sheets a season ago were all expensive transfer targets that were proven when signed.
Ederson’s signing led to the floodgates — sort of — to Liverpool and Chelsea opening their chequebooks in the summer of 2018 to sign new shot-stoppers.
Liverpool had never found Pepe Reina’s true replacement despite giving Simon Mignolet plenty of opportunities. Loris Karius’ mistakes in the Champions League Final ended any chance he had of being Liverpool’s long-term No. 1. Liverpool signed Alisson Becker for £56.25m in the summer of 2018 and thus far, it has been money well spent.
Alisson has recorded seven clean sheets in 12 Premier League games. It is the same number as Ederson. Although Alisson’s mistake against Leicester City led to a goal and could have cost Liverpool three points, he has been nothing but phenomenal. Alisson’s late-game save against Brighton ensured all three points went to the Reds. Still undefeated, Liverpool are just two points back of Manchester City.
Chelsea also splurged in the offseason. Having sold Courtois to Real Madrid after he angled for a move, Chelsea signed Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Club Bilbao. Kepa has recorded six clean sheets, the third most in the Premier League.
Yes, the three most recent big-money Premier League goalkeeper signings are dominating the clean sheets table. The results show just how important making a high-level goalkeeper signing is. While spending large sums on other positions has been en vogue for some time, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester City are proving that spending heavily on goalkeepers is just as important. Perhaps, it is even more important than it has ever been.