It’s that time of year again. The time of year when we are made aware of the nominees for various Ballon d’Or awards. One of those awards is the Yashin Trophy — an award created in 2019 to celebrate the success and ability of the world’s best goalkeepers.
The award is named after legendary Russian goalkeeper Lev Yashin, and the winner is selected by previous Ballon d’Or winners. Liverpool’s Alisson Becker won the inaugural award in 2019/20, with Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma being crowned in 2020/21 — the PSG ‘keeper is not even amongst the nominees this year.
This data analysis report will look to paint a picture of which ‘keeper(s) could be the frontrunners to win the prestigious award later this year. Using various statistics, we will provide an analysis of each ‘keeper in different areas of the game, from clean sheets, to save ratios, to several distribution metrics.
This year’s list of nominees boasts a variety of outstanding goalkeepers from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, and the Bundesliga after their performances in their respective leagues in 2021/22 were considered. As well as using the statistics from their league performances, we will also use data from club domestic & European competitions as well as any international fixtures.
To provide more context, we will briefly discuss the season each ‘keeper has had and why they have been included in the list of nominees. Alongside that, there is a graph displaying the number of games each ‘keeper played (in line with the criteria above), which can be seen below.
Alisson Becker: Liverpool enjoyed a season that brought in two trophies in the form of the FA Cup and the EFL Cup while finishing second in the Premier League behind Manchester City. The Reds also reached the final of the prestigious UEFA Champions League, losing out to Real Madrid. Alisson also shared the duties of being Brazil’s number one over the course of the season — all combining to bring his 2021/22 total up to 62 matches.
Édouard Mendy: Mendy has impressed many people since his arrival at Stamford Bridge, and also endured a busy season in 21/22, playing 63 games. Chelsea also reached the finals of both the FA Cup and EFL cup, only to be beaten by Liverpool on both occasions. Mendy also represented Senegal in the AFCON tournament, adding to his busy schedule.
Ederson: A successful season in the Premier League for Ederson and Manchester City, but they were disappointed not to add any further silverware, despite their efforts. City were knocked out of the Champions League semi-finals, which, alongside Ederson’s appearances for Brazil, brings his match total to 54.
Hugo Lloris: Spurs stalwart Lloris played every single Premier League game in 21/22, with an additional five games in various competitions outside the EPL. Lloris also had a quiet time with France, leaving his match total one lower than Ederson, at 53.
Jan Oblak: Atlético Madrid ‘keeper Oblak played more games than any other ‘keeper on the list last season, with a mammoth total of 64 matches. A busy La Liga season, a run to the knockout stages of the Champions League, and a couple of international appearances all contributed to this total.
Kevin Trapp: Bundesliga ‘keeper Kevin Trapp played 47 games in 21/22, which included international appearances and 32 league games. He also featured in Eintracht Frankfurt’s Europa League campaign, which they ended up winning, beating Rangers in the final.
Mike Maignan: One of the younger ‘keepers on the list, AC Milan’s Mike Maignan has a very bright future ahead of him at 27 years of age. With 42 games under his belt last season, he played the lowest number of games out of all the ‘keepers involved in this analysis.
Manuel Neuer: Once considered by many as the best goalkeeper of his generation, Bayern Munich goalkeeper Neuer is still very much a strong presence when he steps between the sticks. The veteran played 48 games last season which were shared across the Bundesliga, the Champions League and German cup, along with international appearances.
Thibaut Courtois: With 58 appearances to his name in 21/22, Real Madrid’s Belgian stopper had a busy season which included a La Liga title and a Champions League triumph too. Courtois has been a mainstay and a staple of Real Madrid in recent years, and a lot of credit must go to him for the Galacticos’ success last season.
Yassine Bounou: Commonly known as Bono, Sevilla’s Moroccan ‘keeper featured in 56 matches in 21/22, which included a run to the quarter-finals of the AFCON. He also made important appearances in Sevilla’s La Liga season and short Champions League run.
This goes without saying, but while other areas of the game are important, a goalkeeper at the elite level is judged on their goalkeeping ability — in moments that can change games in the blink of an eye, goalkeepers are relied upon to provide strength and stability between the sticks and keep their sides in the game. This segment of the data analysis will compare the statistics of each goalkeeper in several goalkeeping metrics.
While keeping clean sheets is not a true measure of a goalkeeper’s ability — and more of a representation of the quality of the team they play for than anything else — it is still ultimately the metric that ‘keepers are judged on in the mainstream media and is also the statistic used in the golden glove award of each league.
Alisson leads the way with an incredible 33 clean sheets for both Liverpool and Brazil. The Brazilian has shown he can be relied upon in key moments of the game, showing strong abilities in a variety of situations from one-on-one chances to keeping long shots out. Other ‘keepers such as Mendy (29) and Ederson (27) also had impressive campaigns and will certainly be in the running for the Yashin trophy.
Keepers like Lloris (19) and Neuer (18) recorded statistics that paint themselves in a good light but also highlight the level their respective clubs are currently at. Kevin Trapp only recorded seven clean sheets over the course of the campaign, but this is of little surprise when you consider that his club finished 11th in the Bundesliga.
This next graph shows us the number of goals conceded in total in 21/22, along with the average amount of goals conceded per 90 minutes, statistics that provide some context for the consistency of each ‘keeper. Similar to the point about clean sheets, this set of statistics is also not a true measure of ability when presented alone.
Unsurprisingly, Trapp conceded the second highest number of goals (61) and recorded the highest average number of goals conceded per 90 (1.21), which again highlights some of the defensive struggles had by Frankfurt in 21/22. Jan Oblak also had a busy time picking the ball out of the net, conceding 75 goals — an average of 1.08 conceded per 90.
Meanwhile, a cluster of ‘keepers recorded positive statistics in this area. Maignan conceded the lowest number of goals (34) but played fewer games than everyone else on the list, which is reflected in his number of goals conceded per 90 (0.75), which is not the lowest score on the graph.
That accolade lies with Alisson, which goes hand in hand with his ability in keeping the most clean sheets. The Liverpool man conceded 43 goals in total, with an average per 90 of just 0.64. Mendy (0.68) and Bounou (0.69) also showed ability and consistency in keeping shots away — both ‘keepers also shipped under 50 goals, conceding 48 and 42 respectively.
The final graph in this segment gives us a stronger perception of the ability of each ‘keeper as it shows us the save rate % of all Yashin trophy nominees. This statistic is closer to a true measure of goalkeeping ability than the previous graphs as it provides an insight into their technique and ability when it comes to shot stopping.
As mentioned previously, Eintracht Frankfurt’s defensive issues had an impact on Kevin Trapp’s data input, but this set of statistics shows us just how good he is. The German shot-stopper boasts a save rate of 73.48%, which happens to be one of the highest on the list.
The highest save rate goes to Courtois, who recorded a rate of 76.76% — this undoubtedly played a big part in the incredible season that Real Madrid had. Other ‘keepers such as Bounou (76.4%), Maignan (76.39%) and Alisson (75.14%) all recorded positive data too — a testament to their respective attributes.
The modern game, particularly at the elite level, requires a goalkeeper to possess good technical attributes on the ball as well as being a strong shot-stopper. While the tactics of each club impact the passing range of their ‘keeper, they need to possess the capability of short and long passing. This segment will provide an analysis of a range of passing metrics.
Starting with the basics, the graph above shows us how many passes each ‘keeper averages per 90, along with their overall pass accuracy. This set of statistics is impacted the most by the tactics of the respective clubs of each ‘keeper, as some will be required to make shorter, easier passes than others.
Munich’s Neuer has always been reliable in possession, showing confidence and composure on the ball. He averages the highest number of passes per 90 (34.01) which shows he still possesses that same confidence, and his pass accuracy of 92.36% tells us the composure is still present too.
Alisson registered the highest pass accuracy through the course of the campaign (93.02%) and recorded the second highest average of passes per 90 (26.21). This highlights his reliability and consistency when it comes to passing.
Perhaps the clearest sight of a club’s tactics in this graph is reflected in Jan Oblak’s passing entries. Atletico are famous for their distinctive tactical nature under Diego Simeone, with their tactics not relying heavily on their ‘keeper’s on-the-ball ability. Oblak has the second lowest pass accuracy on the list with 81.43% from an average per 90 of just 15.65.
Regardless of tactics, all ‘keepers are required to make long passes — some just execute more than others because of tactics and game plans. A long pass from a ‘keeper serves one of two purposes: almost a clearance to get the team out of immediate danger while also picking out a teammate, or they’re used in line with club tactics; teams that are more direct in their approach will use long passes more frequently.
The one that stands out immediately is Trapp, who averaged 11.32 long passes each game, much more than any other ‘keeper involved. Trapp’s long pass accuracy of 65.27% is not awful but does indicate that these long passes are sometimes forced or executed under pressure.
Spurs ‘keeper Lloris recorded the highest long pass accuracy (74.82%), which plays into Spurs’ gameplan nicely as he can pick out the Tottenham front line quickly when needed. His average per game of 4.91 is one of the lower entries and suggests that he isn’t required to attempt a long pass all that often for both France or Spurs. Neuer and Maignan also posted impressive data in this graph, further backing up the notion that they both played important roles for their respective clubs.
This final graph is almost an extension of the previous analysis but provides a deeper insight into a specific range of long passing. Wyscout defines a progressive pass as “a forward pass that attempts to advance a team significantly closer to the opponent’s goal”, with further stipulations stating passes are progressive if the distance between the starting point and next touch is:
- at least 30 meters closer to the opponent’s goal if the starting and finishing points are within a team’s own half
- at least 15 meters closer to the opponent’s goal if the starting and finishing points are in different halves
- at least 10 meters closer to the opponent’s goal if the starting and finishing points are in the opponent’s half
The scatter graph above represents the number of progressive passes made by each player per game, alongside their accuracy in doing so. Being consistently accurate with progressive passes would provide a much higher amount of chances in attack.
We see a familiar sight with Kevin Trapp posting a far higher average than his goalkeeping counterparts, but with an average-at-best accuracy rating. Frankfurt’s ‘keeper averages 8.69 progressive passes per 90, which does highlight attacking intent and vision — his accuracy of 69.27% suggests he is attempting these passes that are simply not feasible.
Maignan’s name pops up in a positive light again, with the Milan ‘keeper recording the highest accuracy for progressive passing (81.6%) and the fourth highest average. This only increases the suggestion of his ability being rather impressive.
Manchester City’s Ederson recorded the lowest average number of progressive passes per 90, and this brings us back to the point regarding team tactics — City’s style of play doesn’t require the goalkeeper to pick out incisive progressive passes: there is more responsibility to recycle possession to one of the defenders.
Each ‘keeper has a legitimate reason for being nominated for the 2022 Yashin trophy. Whether they’ve been part of a team that brought home silverware or had an outstanding individual campaign, all goalkeepers involved here deserve credit.
As you will be aware, many individual awards in the modern game take the number of club trophies won into consideration, and that will be no different here. With that notion in mind, ‘keepers like Courtois and Alisson will be considered amongst the favourites. With individual performances, however, players such as Mendy, Neuer, and Maignan also deserve to be in with a shout.