- Goalkeepers are often overlooked in the Ballon d'Or debate, but they play a crucial role in the sport's success.
- The Yashin Trophy gives recognition to outstanding goalkeepers from around the world.
- Thibaut Courtois is considered the best goalkeeper, despite his recent injury, and is a top contender for the award.
Debate over the Ballon d'Or often tends to revolve around outfield players – with Erling Haaland and Lionel Messi expected to battle it out for football's most prestigious individual award this year – and only one goalkeeper has ever won the trophy outright. This was Lev Yashin in 1963. But we should not forget just how important goalkeepers are to helping make the sport what it is. With that in mind, the Yashin Trophy affords shot-stoppers from across the globe the opportunity to be acknowledged for their efforts every season.
The award is voted on by past Ballon d'Or winners, with Thibaut Courtois the most recent recipient of the award. Prior to his success in 2022, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Alisson Becker were also winners, but to the shock of many – especially in the case of the Liverpool star – neither man has been nominated this time around. While the ceremony won't be held until Monday, 30th October, we've decided to try and rank the shortlist of nominees from best to worst.
10 Brice Samba
Fans in England will remember Samba for the vital role he played in helping Nottingham Forest earn promotion back up into the Premier League, two seasons ago now. He never played in the Premier League, though, moving to Lens last season where he has continued on his upward trajectory.
Indeed, the 29-year-old shone in Ligue 1, helping his new side shock many as they finished second in Ligue 1 – this learning a spot in the Champions League this campaign – while he also made his national team debut for France earlier this summer and has kept his place in the team for the current international break.
9 Dominik Livaković
The Croatian number one had an outstanding World Cup last winter, making save after save throughout the tournament. Most notably, he saved three penalties in his team's last-16 shoot-out win over Japan, and was the penalty shoot-out hero yet again in the next round as Brazil were beaten in the quarter-finals (he saved Rodrygo's effort while Marquinhos hit the post).
Domestically, he also impressed last term as he helped Dinamo Zagreb win the league title, keeping 11 clean sheets in 35 games, while conceding only 28 times. The 28-year-old has since secured a Fenerbahce but is yet to make his debut for the Turkish outfit.
8 Aaron Ramsdale
The Arsenal goalkeeper is still just 25 years of age, which is a good few years younger than when most goalkeepers reach their peak. With that being the case, he has the potential to go on and be a great for both club and country. Ramsdale certainly impressed last season, although the Gunners fell just short of the title ambitions, as he was later named in the 2022/23 PFA Premier League Team of the Year.
Interestingly enough, it hasn't been the best start to the new campaign for the Englishman. After all, he is yet to keep a clean sheet in the Premier League, and is the worst-performing of the division's 20 goalkeepers in terms of ‘expected goals’ conceded. However, having been nominated for this award should be a big boost to his confidence – which he might need with David Raya now breathing down his neck as Mikel Arteta's alternative option between the sticks in North London.
7 André Onana
Onana has already made a pretty big impression in England so far after joining Manchester United in a £47.2m summer transfer from Inter Milan, notably clattering into Wolves forward Sasa Kalajdzic on his Premier League debut, but also allowing Erik ten Hag's defence to build out from the back with more ease than when David de Gea was the number one option. However, it's what he did before that transfer that has earned him a spot among the Yashin Trophy nominees.
After all, the 27-year-old did keep eight clean sheets in 11 games as Inter made it all the way to the Champions League final. He also won a domestic double as his former side lifted both the Coppa Italia and the Italian Super Cup in the 2022/23 campaign.
6 Mike Maignan
The AC Milan star is simply a fantastic goalkeeper and his importance to the team was highlighted when he missed a fair chunk of action last term through injury. The Serie A side struggled without him, but on his return, they rallied to a fourth-placed finish as Maignan kept eight clean sheets from 21 league appearances in the process.
Since arriving in Italy he has won the Scudetto and become France’s number one. His performances of late have been so impressive, in fact, that there has been talk about him returning to Paris Saint-Germain. This would be ironic as he replaced current PSG 'keeper Donnarumma in Milan after the Italian moved to France in 2021.
5 Yassine Bounou
As with Livakovic, it can't be understated how important a good World Cup can be for boosting a player's profile and Bounou is just one of many Moroccan stars to have captured the hearts of football fans across the globe during Qatar 2022. He took centre stage at a vital moment, though, saving spot-kicks from Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets as his nation beat Spain to make the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.
Italian goalkeeping legend Dino Zoff even said he was the best goalkeeper at the tournament, telling Tuttosport: "Who is the best goalkeeper in this World Cup? So far, Bounou has made a good impression, he made a very notable contribution. There is a lot of him in the Morocco surprise." Adding to his incredible season, he then starred for Sevilla as they beat Roma in the Europa League final, being named man of the match as he saved efforts from Gianluca Mancini and Roger Ibañez as his side won 4-1 on spot kicks following a 1-1 draw. He has since moved to Saudi Pro League outfit Al-Hilal.
4 Marc-André ter Stegen
After a few uninspired seasons in Spain, the German goalkeeper enjoyed something of a renaissance last term. Indeed, Barcelona's back-line was outstanding as Xavi and his men won La Liga for the first time since Lionel Messi left for France. With Ter Stegen between the sticks, Barca had the best defensive record across the top five European leagues last season, conceding just 20 goals.
The Catalan giants also conceded an average of 0.53 goals per game on 0.88 expected goals against per game. What's more, Ter Stegen finished the league season with 9.2 goals prevented from 100 shots on target – conceding 15 (not including own-goals) when he was expected to have let in 24.2.
3 Emiliano Martínez
The Aston Villa goalkeeper enjoyed a perfectly adequate season domestically, keeping 13 clean sheets in 36 league games as his side finished with a Europa Conference League spot in hand. But Martínez mainly deserves his place so high on this list for his heroics at the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
His last-gasp save against Randal Kolo Muani won't be forgotten any time soon, while he then saved Kingsley Coman's spot-kick, as Lionel Scaloni's Argentina beat France in the final. Although, perhaps he will be best remembered for his uncouth gesture upon being handed the tournament's Golden Glove award. It's certainly been a remarkable few years for the goalkeeper who once couldn't get a look-in at Arsenal.
When you are part of a team that have been as successful as Man City in recent times, you must be a fairly special talent. As a consequence of the English club's dominance, Ederson's role in the team may even be somewhat underrated, but he deserves his flowers because Pep Guardiola wouldn't play just anyone in that role – as Joe Hart once found out.
After all, the Brazilian played 48 games in total for City last season, keeping 19 clean sheets as his side won a historic treble. In the Champions League, along their path to glory, the 30-year-old also didn't concede goals in games against Sevilla, Copenhagen, RB Leipzig, Bayern Munich (in the home leg) Real Madrid (in the home leg) and Inter in the final. If that's not impressive then we don't know what is.
1 Thibaut Courtois
The truth is, whatever way you want to look at it, Courtois is – and probably has been for the last few years – the best goalkeeper in the world. Sadly, he's set to spend a long spell on the sidelines having suffered a torn ACL during the summer, but the 31-year-old has at least been at the peak of his game before then.
Despite not making the final, he was named in the Champions League Team of the Season ahead of the likes of Ederson and Onana and while Real Madrid failed to win either that tournament or La Liga last term, they were still victorious in the Club World Cup and Copa del Rey. Across the 2022/23 campaign, Courtois kept 17 clean sheets spread across 49 outings for his club, and it's hard to look past him as the most likely winner of the award.