The Evolution of the Goalkeeper Role

Alisson Becker
Alisson Becker in goal for Liverpool | Robin Jones/Getty Images

When the back-pass rule was introduced at the 1992 Summer Olympics, few could have envisaged it would have quite the impact on the modern game as it has done.

No longer were goalkeepers simply required to ‘save’ any pass that had been fizzed at them from 40 yards by a panicking right-back. Instead, they had to show an accomplished first touch and an ability to get the ball out of their feet before distributing to a teammate, with the presence of an onrushing centre-forward growing more prevalent by the second in their peripheral vision.

Ederson’s ability with the ball at his feet is key to Manchester City’s style of play | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Almost 30 years on from the introduction of the rule and the goalkeeping position has evolved arguably more than any other position on the pitch.

The current crop of top keepers in world football are far more than just ‘stoppers’ – they’re proper footballers who are regularly afforded the chance to showcase their ability with the ball at their feet.

The introduction of the likes of Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp to the Premier League has seen an influx of managers looking to play out from the back, and without a competent footballing goalkeeper none of this would be possible (insert picture of forlorn Simon Mignolet here).

Keepers have become the foundation of a team, no longer scoffed at as ‘the only one mad enough to play in goal’, instead they have become arguably the most important part of a squad.

And not only has the development in distribution benefitted those within close proximity of them, it’s also been to the profit of those further up the field, with Marc-André ter Stegen, Alisson Becker and Ederson all recording assists for their respective clubs last season.

The similarities between modern-day goalkeepers and outfield players doesn’t end there.

In a world where diets and training regimes are intensely scrutinised in the hope of gaining any slight advantage, footballers are as sharp and pacy as they’ve ever been. Because of this, the gap between a goalkeeper and his defence is more susceptible to being exploited by lightning-quick forwards.

In order to combat this threat, keepers have had to adapt yet again. Gone are the days of the slightly, erm, rotund guy between the sticks, instead they have to be athletes, capable of sensing danger and displaying swift acceleration when called upon.

While Gyula Grosics and Lev Yashin were pioneers of the sweeper-keeper role, the performances of Manuel Neuer’s for Bayern Munich and Germany have truly evolved the way goalkeeping is coached.

Manuel NeuerManuel Neuer
Manuel Neuer has redefined the role of a goalkeeper | Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

While a manager is open to playing absolutely any formation he likes, the one thing which will remain a constant in football team is the goalkeeper. Because of this, it would be easy to believe that goalkeeping would never evolve, it’s just a case of keeping the ball out of the net, right?

In fact, goalkeeping has evolved as much – if not more – than most positions on the pitch, with a whole host of top-class keepers including Peter Schmeichel and Oliver Kahn laying claim to having developed the position in some way.

Some of them may still be a little eccentric, but they’re every bit as athletic and gifted with their feet as most of the players in front of them.


Kasper Schmeichel Linked With Manchester United Move

Kasper Schmeichel
Kasper Schmeichel could be on his way to Old Trafford | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has been linked with a move to Manchester United, despite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer consistently backing his current number one David de Gea.

While the Spain international’s form has undoubtedly worsened in recent years, boss Solskjaer has publicly supported him on numerous occasions, including after his horrific performance in the recent FA Cup semi final defeat to Chelsea.

However, according to the Sun, De Gea’s error prone season has caused United boss Solskjaer to weigh up his options in goal for next season, with Schmeichel described as a ‘ready-made option’.

David de GeaDavid de Gea
De Gea has become an unreliable option in the United goal. | Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Dean Henderson is set to return to Old Trafford following a successful loan spell at Sheffield United, though questions have been raised over his experience at the highest level.

It was recently reported that Henderson would hold talks with United regarding his chances of succeeding De Gea as the club’s new first choice goalkeeper, while Chelsea have been linked with the former England Under-21 international.

With 201 Premier League appearances for Leicester, Schmeichel is seen a more suitable option should United seek a De Gea replacement.

Dean HendersonDean Henderson
Dean Henderson has been in fine form for Sheffield Utd this season. | Pool/Getty Images

On the surface, it seems unlikely that United would move for Schmeichel, seeing as they already have De Gea and Henderson on their books. It would also be a step away from United’s recent transfer policy, which has seen the club pursue younger players with an eye on the future.

Son of United hero Peter Schmeichel, Kasper’s heroics in goal were integral in Leicester’s Premier League winning campaign back in 2015/16. The 33-year-old also has 53 caps for Denmark and represented his country at the 2018 World Cup.

The Red Devils are also believed to be interested in Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak, but Schmeichel would represent a cheaper alternative. It may also allow United to pursue more expensive attacking additions, such as Jadon Sancho.

Kasper SchmeichelKasper Schmeichel
Schmeichel would be a much cheaper alternative to the pricey Jan Oblak. | Pool/Getty Images

Since joining from Leeds back in 2011, Schmeichel has appeared 378 times in all competitions for the Foxes and has enjoyed another stellar season between the sticks at the King Power Stadium.

His 13 clean sheets helped Leicester to their second highest Premier League finish. A poor run of form toward the end of the season saw Brendan Rodgers’ side narrowly miss out on Champions League qualification.


Leeds United Eye Move for Newcastle United’s Matty Longstaff

Newcastle United v Manchester United - Premier League
Newcastle United v Manchester United – Premier League | Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Leeds United are eyeing a move for Newcastle United’s Matty Longstaff as they aim to strengthen their squad ahead of their return to the Premier League.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side return to the Premier League next season, for the first time in 16 years after winning the Championship, and, in an effort to avoid a relegation battle, the club are looking at Newcastle’s Longstaff to strengthen their midfield.

Marcelo BielsaMarcelo Bielsa
Marcelo Bielsa is keen to bring Longstaff to Elland Road | Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Longstaff’s contract with the Magpies expires this summer and the Telegraph have reported Leeds are looking at snatching the youngster away from St. James’ Park.

While the midfielder’s contract will expire this summer, Longstaff will still cost money. Due to training compensation, Leeds would be required to pay a fee for the 20-year-old, a fee more expensive than the foreign clubs also looking at Longstaff.

At just 20 years old, the Whites boss Bielsa sees a lot of potential in Longstaff and views him as a bargain signing.

Matty LongstaffMatty Longstaff
Longstaff’s contract at St James’ Park expires this summer | Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images

Newcastle and the midfielder have failed to agree terms on a new deal, but Magpies boss Steve Bruce has made no secret of his desire to keep Longstaff at the club.

That being said, having been limited to just nine appearances in the Premier League with Newcastle, Longstaff may be eager to move on in an attempt to gain first-team football and with the midfielder being from Rotherham, a move back to Yorkshire may be too good to turn down.

Leeds will face tough competition for the 20-year-old though, with numerous clubs such as Udinese and Watford also interested in his signature.

The midfielder is just another name in a long list of players Bielsa’s side have been linked with following their promotion. With reports suggesting Leeds are also interested in Juan Foyth, as well as Solly March, Sergio Romero and Cristhian Stuani, there’s an apparent willingness at the club to splash the cash as they return to the Premier League.


Liverpool & Champions League Finals in the 21st Century – How Much Do You Remember?

UEFA Champions League"Tottenham Hotspur FC v Liverpool FC"
Liverpool have featured in four Champions League finals this century. | VI-Images/Getty Images

For some teams, winning comes naturally.

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Manchester United – five shining examples of clubs who have lifted title after title, cup after cup, trophy after trophy.

But when it comes to the Champions League – and many other competitions for that matter – there’s another behemoth of world football who go down in the tick box of relentless winners; Liverpool.

The Reds have won European football’s most prestigious club competition no fewer than six times, and since the turn of the century, have appeared in four finals. The question is, how much do you remember about those games?

Test your knowledge and get that brain working by taking 90min‘s quickfire quiz.


West Ham’s Felipe Anderson Holds Talks With Lazio Over Potential Summer Move

Felipe Anderson
Felipe Anderson could be one his way out. | Michael Regan/Getty Images

West Ham winger Felipe Anderson is currently in Rome meeting with Lazio representatives over a potential summer move.

After an exciting debut season at the London Stadium, the tricky Brazilian forward’s form has fallen off dramatically in his second season at the club.

According to Football Insider, David Moyes is open to selling Anderson, who has fallen down the pecking order at the club.

Felipe AndersonFelipe Anderson
Anderson has had a poor second season with the club. | Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

The discussions over a potential transfer are believed to be in preliminary stages, with nothing set in stone as of yet, though these talks are a massive indicator that Anderson knows his time at the Hammers is up.

Signed at the start of the 2018/19 campaign by Manuel Pellegrini for a club record £36m, Anderson made 40 appearances in his debut season, scoring ten and assisting five.

This term however, the former Santos man has made just 27 appearances, scoring once and assisting five in a wholly inconsistent season. Moyes opted for more reliable options as the Hammers battled their way out of a relegation dogfight.

David Moyes, Mark NobleDavid Moyes, Mark Noble
West Ham narrowly avoided the drop this season. | Pool/Getty Images

Anderson featured in just three out of nine matches since the restart, though looked lethargic and uninterested at times, prompting Moyes to severely limit his playing time in the latter stages of the season.

With two years remaining on his contact with West Ham, Moyes will be looking to recoup as much as he can for the winger as he looks to build his own successful side at the London Stadium.

David MoyesDavid Moyes
Moyes is in need of funds to recruit new players for next season. | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Serie A is thought to be the ideal destination for Anderson. Napoli are long-term admirers, but with their £74m signing of Lille’s Victor Osimhen, it is unlikely they will fork out for the out-of-favour Hammer.

Anderson joined Lazio from Santos back in 2013/14. Having spent five years at the club, the 27-year-old is believed to be using his connections at the Stadio Olimpico to try and engineer a move back to the Biancocelesti.