Sergio Romero turned 32 on Friday with most of the opinion he is the best back-up goalkeeper in the Premier League right now.
The Argentine gloveman has kept an incredible 27 clean sheets during his 43 appearances for Manchester United, conceding just 20 goals and leaving David De Gea with the nice, fuzzy feeling that should he get injured, Romero can step in and keep his place between the sticks warm.
However, Romero is just one of many top-class deputy ‘keepers plying his trade in the Premier League at the moment, with even insane stoppers watching on from benches around Europe as well, coming in for cup games and leaving their manager safe in the knowledge that they are far away from a goalkeeping crisis.
With that in mind, Squawka has ranked the top 10 back-up goalkeepers in Europe’s top five leagues right now.
10. Sven Ulreich
Club: Bayern Munich
International caps: 0
A horrific metatarsal injury ruled Manuel Neuer out for almost the entirety of the 2017/18 season, giving Sven Ulreich a chance to show Bayern Munich what he can do.
The 30-year-old didn’t disappoint, keeping 12 clean sheets in 29 Bundesliga appearances as the Bavarians were crowned German champions once again.
Neuer is back and so, naturally, Ulreich has found himself on the bench again, restricted to just three appearances so far this season. He has, however, kept a combined 70 clean sheets during his time for Bayern and Stuttgart’s first teams over the years.
9. Nick Pope
International caps: 1
As far as goalkeepers go, Burnley are pretty stacked. 75-time England international, Joe Hart, could have easily made this list but seems consigned to sitting on the bench for both league and cup games, with Nick Pope jumping in ahead of him for recent ties against Man City and Barnsley.
An injury to Tom Heaton saw Pope play 35 Premier League games last season, making 114 saves and keeping 11 clean sheets. That form saw the 26-year-old pick up his first cap for England, as well as a place in Gareth Southgate’s 2018 World Cup squad.
8. Alex Meret
International caps: 0
Gianluigi Donnarumma may take all the headlines when it comes to young, Italian goalkeepers, but you shouldn’t underestimate the abilities of Alex Meret.
The Italy U21 international has kept four clean sheets in seven Serie A games for Napoli this season, with a further three appearances coming in cup competitions so far.
The Partenopei shelled out a reported £19.80m to bring Meret in from Udinese last year and is fully expected to take up No.1 duties once the erratic David Ospina’s loan expires.
7. Petr Cech
International caps: 124
He might have struggled to adapt to Unai Emery’s ball-playing demands, but it’s tough to think of a back-up goalkeeper with more pedigree than Petr Cech.
The 124-time Czech Republic international has kept six clean sheets in 15 outings this season after losing his Premier League starting berth to Bernd Leno, and although he isn’t quite the ominous presence between the sticks as he was during his illustrious Chelsea days, he will retire this summer with his legacy firmly intact.
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6. Paulo Gazzaniga
Club: Tottenham Hotspur
International caps: 1
It took a while for Paulo Gazzaniga to overhaul Michel Vorm as Hugo Lloris’ understudy, but overhaul him he has.
A combination of Vorm’s incompetence and Gazzaniga’s brilliance when called upon has seen the Argentinian take up cup game duties and reassure his compatriot, Mauricio Pochettino, that he has nothing to fear if Lloris is injured or suspended.
The 27-year-old has kept four clean sheets in 10 games this season, earned his first cap for Argentina and even had a few Spurs fans wondering if he should be given a run ahead of Lloris.
— Syracuse Spurs (@SyracuseSpurs) February 13, 2019
Gazzaniga should be given a chance
— pete crook (@crookeymonster) February 20, 2019
5. Mattia Perin
International caps: 2
Signed in the summer of 2018 as the expected replacement for Gianluigi Buffon, things haven’t quite got going for Mattia Perin just yet.
The two-time Italy international was excellent during his time with Genoa but has thus far been restricted to just six appearances for the Old Lady, with Wojciech Szczęsny being preferred in most games.
That being said, Perin is only 26 and has kept an impressive four clean sheets in those six outings so far, conceding just four goals in 540 minutes of action.
4. Gianluigi Buffon
Club: Paris Saint-Germain
International caps: 176
He might be 41-years-old, but Buffon remains a goalkeeper of the highest order.
The evergreen Italian barely qualifies as a back-up, considering he has played 18 games for PSG this season, but Alphonse Areola edges him out with 20 appearances, with Thomas Tuchel himself declaring the Frenchman as his No.1 at the start of the season.
“The decision is not final, but I told Alphonse that, in my opinion, he is in pole position to be No.1,” Tuchel told RMC Sport at the start of the season. “Alphonse comes from the youth academy, PSG is everything for him and he absolutely wants to prove himself here.”
Buffon has kept eight clean sheets for PSG this season, conceding just 10 goals so far.
3. Sergio Romero
Club: Manchester United
International caps: 96
Romero has picked up an incredible 96 caps for Argentina and has been their main stopper for years, even with the likes of Gazzaniga and Geronimo Rulli biting at his heels.
Happy 32nd birthday to one of the best back-up goalkeepers in the world, Sergio Romero.
🔴 43 games
🔴 27 clean sheets
🔴 20 goals conceded
His Man Utd record speaks for itself. pic.twitter.com/8AhxF4RWTL
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 22, 2019
Having David De Gea at the same club as you is pretty much a death sentence in terms of getting minutes in the league as a ‘keeper, but Romero has kept 27 clean sheets in 43 appearances for the Red Devils, playing a huge role in their Europa League winning team in 2017, meaning he is much-loved at Old Trafford.
2. Jasper Cillessen
International caps: 46
It’s not often you get the Dutch No.1 sitting out all-but two league games for their club in two-and-a-half seasons, is it? Such is the incredible form of Marc-Andre ter Stegen – who could actually be included in a similar list for international ‘keepers – that Jasper Cillessen has found first-team chances very hard to come by at the Nou Camp.
Cillessen left behind a life as Ajax’s main stopper in 2016 to join the Blaugrana and has, to date, featured in 28 games, 26 of which have come in European and cup competitions.
That being said, the 46-time Holland international has pulled off some absolutely show-stopping saves during that time and could just as easily overthrow Ter Stegen, should the German lose his form.
1. Keylor Navas
Club: Real Madrid
International caps: 83
With three consecutive Champions League wins and a La Liga title under his belt, Keylor Navas can find himself incredibly unlucky to be Real Madrid’s No.2 right now.
The signing of Thibaut Courtois in the summer of 2018 put an end to Navas’ reign between the sticks at the Bernabeu, but a host of massive clubs will be eyeing him up in the upcoming transfer window, while Santiago Solari would have absolutely no issues in throwing the Costa Rican back in goal at a moment’s notice, as he has done on 13 occasions so far this season.
His extensive list of club honours, coupled with a host of individual awards and 83 international caps, means he is Europe’s best No.2 right now.