The eyes of the footballing world turned to the Ballon d’Or nominees on Friday night.
Fans eagerly anticipated the 30 players that would be unveiled by France Football as the contenders for their most prestige of men’s prizes and boy was there plenty to unpack from their selections.
While heads were turned upon the selections of Luis Diaz, Mike Maignan and Fabinho, more than a few supporters were throwing their arms in the air upon noticing that Lionel Messi and Alisson Becker were absent.
Ballon d’Or nominations
However, arguably just as interesting as the Ballon d’Or nominees was the list in which Liverpool’s number one was indeed present: the Yashin Trophy for the world’s best goalkeeper.
Yes, that’s right, France Football has also been garlanding the shot-stopper that they consider to be the best in the business since 2019 with ‘keepers often underrepresented when it comes to individual awards.
Alisson took home the inaugural prize and will look to win it back from Gianluigi Donnarumma at the awards ceremony on October 27 as he joins nine other top players in the hunt for a prize named after the only Ballon d’Or-winning goalkeeper in history.
And while Karim Benzema is seemingly nailed on to win the premier men’s prize, the situation isn’t so clear when it comes to the glove-wearing stars who shone throughout the 2021/22 season.
Ranking Yashin Tropy nominees
So much so, in fact, that we couldn’t resist the challenge of trying to rank the 10 nominees ourselves to work out where we actually stand on the question of who should lift the Yashin Trophy.
And with revered shot-stoppers such as Donnarumma, Marc-André ter Stegen, Keylor Navas, David de Gea and Samir Handanovic conspicuous by their absence, it made for a fascinating list of ‘keepers to rank.
So, without further ado, be sure to check out how the 10 Yashin Trophy nominees stack up in the opinion of your humble GIVEMESPORT writer as journalists around the world look to name the number one, number one.
10. Kevin Trapp (Eintracht Frankfurt)
An underrated shot-stopper and Eintracht’s shootout hero in the Europa League final, but Trapp is nevertheless the weakest ‘keeper of the bunch with only five Bundesliga clean sheets to his name last season.
9. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur)
A pretty generous nomination, it must be said. While Lloris does get a lot of unfair criticism, he’s simply not the ‘keeper he used to be and a combination of average distribution and susceptibility to errors caps him at 9th.
8. Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)
Again, quite kind in all honesty because Oblak, though still arguably the best ‘keeper in the world on his day, endured a miserable 2021/22 season in La Liga where he conceded 6.1 goals that he was statistically expected to save.
7. Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)
A little like Oblak, we’re perhaps cutting Neuer some slack based on legacy and overall quality as there wasn’t too much to write home about in regards to the Bayern number one’s season, but 14 clean sheets across the Bundesliga and Champions League is still nothing to be sniffed at.
6. Yassine Bounou (Sevilla)
Is ‘Bono’ a better goalkeeper than Neuer and Oblak, period? No, no he’s not, but he most certainly was in terms of last season where the Sevilla star thwarted 4.8 expected goals and bagged himself the Ricardo Zamora Trophy.
5. Mike Maignan (AC Milan)
Football fans who don’t keep tabs on Serie A are starting to wake up to the fact that Maignan is a generational talent between the sticks, helping Milan to the Scudetto with a league-high 17 clean sheets.
4. Edouard Mendy (Chelsea)
With the joint-most Champions League clean sheets and the Premier League’s fourth-best save percentage last season, Mendy reiterated his status as one of the best shot-stoppers in the business even if his form did plateau latterly.
3. Ederson (Manchester City)
Forever underrated as he so often resides in the shadow of his compatriot, more on him in a second, Ederson remains firmly in the ‘world’s best goalkeeper’ conversation fresh from winning his third consecutive Golden Glove.
2. Alisson Becker (Liverpool)
In the interest of transparency, we actually started out with Alisson in first place when compiling our list because the Liverpool number one rediscovered exactly the sort of world-beating form that saw him win the 2019 Yashin Trophy.
And we weren’t simply going to pick Courtois based on his Champions League final performance alone because, while utterly spectacular, it shouldn’t be the sole basis on which the title is decided.
Nevertheless, once we dig a little deeper into both their statistics across the 2021/22 season then even the seemingly peerless Alisson does find himself one step below Courtois on the podium, so let’s unpack the data…
1. Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)
Forget the final, let’s talk about the Champions League in general where Courtois not only amassed more clean sheets, but proved to be a superior shot-stopper in general with a competition-best 5.1 expected goals denied.
Alisson, by comparison, actually found himself fifth-bottom in the tournament with 2.3 goals shipped that he would have been expected to save.
Real’s shot-stopper in chief also comes out on top with the same metric in league football and although he didn’t amass as many clean sheets, still held his own with 16 shut-outs and just 29 goals conceded.
It is mightily close, don’t get it twisted, but enough so that Courtois’ performance for the ages directly against Alisson in the European Cup final is enough to tip the scales slightly in his favour.
Courtois edges Alisson
Now, while you’d imagine that Courtois will ultimately take the trophy home, particularly with Alisson missing out on the general Ballon d’Or list, make no mistake that it shouldn’t be a procession beyond reproach.
Liverpool’s shot-stopper might not have had the rather large feather in his cap that was a Man of the Match performance in Paris, but he certainly went toe-to-toe with Courtois across the entire season.
Nevertheless, with yours truly ultimately edging it to Real’s number one, too, there’s good reason to think that more than one of France Football’s top prizes will be heading to the Bernabeu this year.
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Over to you, Alisson.