Ball-playing goalkeepers are the next big thing in football

Published on 30th June 2019 by


Football has seen huge evolution in recent years, particularly around the desire by many modern football managers to build a side that is competent in possession and able to keep the ball under pressure.

Of course such a style has always been prominent in football but the wave of possession based teams is certainly far greater in a modern climate where huge emphasis is placed on skill and ball retention more than anything else.

Tackling and crossing – two elements of the game that were prominent in the 90s, for example – have been softened and, in terms of crossing, are rare to see on a consistent basis these days. It’s easy to get sent off in this modern era of football and target men, who would typically be on the receiving end of said crosses, are few and far between. Rarely do you, for example, see a wide man beat his full-back on the outside and whip in a cross these days as, according to some managers, they’d be more likely to give away possession than aid the creation of a goal. Possession really is everything.

This is further demonstrated by the prominence of ball-playing goalkeepers in the modern era. Hoofing the ball up the pitch isn’t the fashionable thing to do in football these days and as Pep Guardiola’s famous Barcelona side demonstrated on countless occasions, the goalkeeper needs to be efficient in possession, comfortable on the ball and have an excellent range of passing. They’re the first port of call when it comes to starting an attack, after all.

Sides such as Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang – who won the FA Cup in 1988 – are virtually non-existent these days, particularly at the highest level. They’re a side who were known for playing the ball long into their big target man John Fashanu, winning the knock downs and thriving off any second balls that would materialise. It wasn’t pretty, but the Dons were the masters of it. So far flung are we from that sort of style, though, that any team who would employ it these days would undoubtedly be ridiculed for it.

Consider this fact: The top three teams in the odds to win the Premier League next season: Manchester City (4/6), Liverpool (5/2) and Tottenham (14/1, all odds from Totesport) all have ball-playing goalkeepers (Ederson, Allison and Hugo Loris).

The same goes for the top two teams in the Champions League odds, City (5/1) and Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s Barcelona (6/1) and Liverpool (8/1). Simply a visit to gets an exclusive bonus offer from Totesport, wouldn’t it make sense to use it on a team with a ball-playing keeper? Indeed, if you speak to fans of struggling Manchester United, there number on criticism of David De Gea is the Spaniard’s distribution. Although, it has to be said he is still arguably the best shot-stopper in world football.

Below are some of the attributes that we’re seeing more of in modern day goalkeepers.

Distribution (feet) – Playing out from the back is a more common theme these days, so any top goalkeeper needs to comfortable on the ball and starting off attacks with their feet.

Distribution (arm) – Thrown distribution is just as important as with the feet as it can be easier to bypass multiple opponents. Some goalkeepers are better at throwing than kicking.

Sweeping – Goalkeepers are having to be more positive with their starting positions these days and tend to come off their line and sweep things up more, much like Manuel Neuer does.


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goalkeepers365 (Luke) is the heart of the website and simply wants to provide you with news, reviews and training info on everything keeping. Located in England, Luke is often found scouring the internet for the most recent trends in goalkeeping.

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