Being a backup goalkeeper isn’t the most satisfying role to play in a professional football team. Like your teammates you need to train everyday but in the knowledge that you might not play a single league game all season. Quite often, cup ties are the only games a backup goalkeeper will play barring injuries.
Even well established goalkeepers like Joe Hart sometimes find themselves reduced to the back up role, though in fairness the Englishman has conceded the third most Premier League goals ever.
The role of the goalkeeper is an unforgiving one and this is even truer for those goalkeepers who might spend their entire career in the shadow of their positional rival. However, having a good substitute is crucial for a top-tier club and that is why we want to have a look at the 7 best backup goalkeepers in Europe.
Antonio Adán (Atletico Madrid)
Adán returned to the Spanish capital in 2018 after leaving Real Madrid five years earlier. The Madrid-born goalkeeper only made 18 appearances for the Real Madrid first team but was the number one choice for Real Madrid B and Real Madrid C. Between 2014 and 2018, the now 32-year old did play 160 league games for Betis but is now second fiddle to one of the best goalkeepers in the world Jan Oblak.
Alphonse Areola (PSG / Real Madrid)
Alphonse Francis Areola has already played for five different clubs in his career but is still only 26 years old. Whilst under contract with Paris Saint-Germain he has been on loan spells with Lens, Bastia, Villarreal and this season with Real Madrid. Navas arrived at PSG from Real Madrid and Areola went the other way on loan as part of the deal. The France international is now the backup goalkeeper for Belgium international Thibaut Courtois.
Claudio Bravo (Manchester City)
Bravo joined Man City from Barcelona for £17 million in 2016 but was replaced by Ederson the following summer. He was signed by Guardiola as he was considered to be better with his feet than Joe Hart, who was pushed towards the exit, something that is particularly important for the style of play of the Spanish manager. The 37-year old goalkeeper made 60 appearances for Man City, though most of them during the 2016/17 season.
Gianluigi Buffon – (PSG / Juventus)
One of the greatest goalkeepers of all time and the 4th most expensive goalkeeper ever, Gianluigi Buffon, has to settle for a role as number two which is not abnormal for someone turning 43 next year. The legendary Italian goalkeeper was planning to retire this season but will add one more year to his career as he wants to finish his career in style and not because of the Coronavirus. Buffon, who made 176 appearances for the Italian national team, will act as substitute for first choice Wojciech Szczęsny and as an example and inspiration for young talents at Juventus.
During the summer of 2019, Neto made an unusual transfer from Valencia to Barcelona, with Jasper Cillessen moving to Valencia for £31.5m. Allegedly, the swap was constructed in order to balance both club’s books for Financial Fair Play rules. The once-capped Brazilian international has been drifting between first choice and backup his whole career and, after being a regular starter at Fiorentina and Valencia, he now serves as the backup for Marc-André ter Stegen.
Sergio Romero – Man United
The 32-year-old has made 58 appearances for Manchester United (mostly in cup games) since joining the club in 2015. He made his 50th appearance against his ex-team, AZ Alkmaar, at the end of last year. The Argentina international joined the Red Devils on a free transfer from Sampdoria in 2015 and is considered by many to be the best backup goalkeeper in the world. Indeed, many clubs would not mind having him as their first-choice. Unfortunately for Romero, David de Gea is considered to be one of the best goalkeepers in the world and in Dean Henderson, Manchester United also have one of the breakout stars of the season..
Adrián – Liverpool
Just as with Sergio Romero, a strong case could be made to call Adrián one of the best backup goalkeepers in the Premier League and the world. Klopp decided to sign Adrian as a substitute to Allisson when Simon Mignolet left for Club Brugge. Though many analysts were not convinced an out-of-favour goalkeeper like Adrián was the best pick, the doubters were proven wrong last season. But after the 33-year old made a couple of high-profile errors during the 3-2 loss to Atletico Madrid in the second leg of the Champions League last 16, he might be escorted to the exit this summer after all.
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