FC 100 best men's soccer goalkeepers, 2022-23

Illustration by MASA

It's not enough for the modern goalkeeper to be good with his gloves. These days, shot-stoppers are expected to start the attacking moves as well as shutting them down. Agility and reflexes are par for the course, but the best goalies in the world also fuse a sense of confidence and daring in their penalty areas that make them seem truly larger than life.

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This year's ballot had 50 entries from all over the globe and from all areas of ESPN FC, from writers to reporters, from editors to producers, from behind-the-scenes staff to on-air talent. Gab Marcotti, Julien Laurens, Mark Ogden and Luis Miguel Echegaray were just some of the key voters, along with their FC TV counterparts Craig Burley and Shaka Hislop.

Voters were encouraged to take the following things into consideration when casting their votes: who are the best men's players right now, weighted toward their 2022-23 seasons. Voters were given discretion as to how much injuries played in votes; several players made the cut despite missing chunks of the season given the scale of their contributions and performances when healthy.

Equally, performances in individual competitions (aka Champions League, World Cup) were considered, but were not the overarching factor, in casting a vote. Players whose efforts spanned the largest sample of games should naturally rank higher than those who excelled in short tournament formats.

Did Courtois deserve the top GK spot ahead of Ter Stegen?

Gab & Juls react to Thibaut Courtois being named ahead of Marc-Andre Ter Stegen as the best goalkeeper on the ESPN FC 100 list.

All player copy written by Bill Connelly, Constantin Eckner, Julien Laurens, Rob Dawson, Alex Kirkland and James Tyler.

10. Nick POPE, Newcastle United/England

Why he's on the list:

Plucking stars from relegated teams doesn't always work out as planned, but Newcastle scored one of the best moves of last summer in adding Burnley's Pope for a reported €11.5 million fee. Pope stopped 73% of shots on target -- he has been between 71% and 77% in each of his five seasons in the Premier League -- and he continued his evolution into one of the more well-rounded keepers in the world's best league. He's always positioned correctly, he's aggressive in charging out to claim crosses, and at 6-foot-3, he remains one of the more imposing figures around.

Pope is steady and consistent, and while Newcastle has obviously made a number of exciting upgrades over the past year, from forward (Alexander Isak) to center-back (Sven Botman), Pope made as much of a contribution as any newcomer to the Magpies' fourth-place finish.

Expectations for 2023-24:

Expectations are ratcheting up in Newcastle. Pope is expected to sign a lofty new contract this summer, and with the club qualifying for its first foray in the Champions League since 2002-03, the 31-year-old will make his debut in the competition this fall. And then there's the matter of the national team; Jordan Pickford remains Gareth Southgate's top choice for England goalkeeper, but Pope's improved status and visibility will keep him on the radar there, too. -- Connelly

9. Emiliano MARTINEZ, Aston Villa/Argentina

Why he's on the list:

The enigmatic shot-stopper has always been a character between the posts, but the past 12 months saw him finally earn the recognition and accolades he deserves. Winning the World Cup with Argentina in the winter was the obvious highlight -- though quickly overshadowed by his Golden Glove pose -- but his steady, assertive presence was key to Aston Villa's surge up the table under Unai Emery. His veteran savvy has put him on the radar of many big clubs, but one senses the sky's the limit for him at Villa Park having signed a new long-term deal in early 2022 that should keep him there until the next World Cup.

Expectations for 2023-24:

How high can Villa go? Much of that will depend on Martinez continuing to set the tone from the back. He clinched Villa's club record for Premier League clean sheets in April and has Emery's full faith and confidence. The Europa Conference League will add some more stress and sizzle to their schedule, not that Martinez will be fazed. -- Tyler

8. Aaron RAMSDALE, Arsenal/England

Why he's on the list:

It was something of a surprise when Mikel Arteta decided to part with close to £30m for a goalkeeper who had been relegated from the Premier League twice with Bournemouth and then Sheffield United. But Aaron Ramsdale has won over Arsenal fans and was a big part of the team that came so close in the Premier League last season.

"He has been really, really good and probably against the odds," said Arteta in April. "Because when you look at his past and where he was coming from, he got relegated twice, it was difficult to imagine it. But we saw he had that character, charisma and personality to play for our club and he had the potential qualities to feed into our way of playing."

Expectations for 2023-24:

Still only 25, Ramsdale has plenty of time to get better. He has cemented himself as Arsenal's No. 1 and the goal at club level will be to help turn Arteta's team from plucky losers to title winners. The new season will also give Ramsdale the chance to test himself against the best in the Champions League for the first time.

His big aim at international level will be to leapfrog Jordan Pickford in the pecking order with England. Pickford has been Gareth Southgate's first choice since the 2018 World Cup, but with the Euros in Germany to come at the end of the season, Ramsdale will want the shirt for himself. -- Dawson

7. EDERSON, Manchester City/Brazil

Why he's on the list:

In terms of raw shot-stopping, Ederson had a below-average campaign for the English treble winners. Among the 25 Premier League goalkeepers with at least 1,000 minutes in 2022-23, he ranked just 20th in goals prevented (expected goals on target conceded minus actual goals conceded) at minus-4.7. Even with a brilliant performance in the Champions League final, he doesn't sniff this list unless he's great at everything else in the keeper repertoire. And he might be the best in the world at all that stuff.

Ederson is assertive in claiming balls in the box and is notorious for his passing abilities. He completed 936 passes (second among EPL keepers) with 0.23 expected assists (third) and one actual assist (tied for first). His longball passing gives City an element of random verticality. He is an almost perfect Pep Guardiola goalkeeper.

Expectations for 2023-24:

He's only 29, and his contract runs until 2026. In other words, expectations for Ederson are to keep on keeping on. One could certainly be concerned about his regression in the shot-stopping department -- that goals prevented figure has fallen for three straight seasons (from a career high of 3.4 in 2019-20) -- but as long as his ball distribution remains elite, one assumes he will remain in the job. -- Connelly

6. Gianluigi DONNARUMMA, Paris Saint-Germain/Italy

Why he's on the list:

Like Kylian Mbappé says, "don't talk to me about age." Age means nothing in football. You have seen Donnarumma play at the top level for so many years now that you would think he's 32 years old. Yet the Italian is still only 24, perceptions skewed by his vast experience since making his debut at 16 for Milan. He learned a lot since moving to PSG in the summer of 2021 after winning the Euros with his country. There have been ups and downs, great saves and blunders, sure, but his potential is huge.

Expectations for 2023-24:

For now, nobody at PSG is thinking about bringing some competition to Donnarumma at the club, but this coming season is huge for him. He will have to make it count and deliver under a new manager in Luis Enrique. He has to improve his concentration and his distribution from the back, for one, but he'll also need to step up his leadership skills in a PSG squad that often lacks direction and focus -- two things Donnarumma has in abundance. He'll also be hoping to help Italy defend their European Championship crown in Germany if they qualify. -- Laurens

5. Jan OBLAK, Atletico Madrid/Slovenia

Why he's on the list:

His ball distribution is fine, but the 6-foot-2 Oblak remains on these lists because he continues to fulfill a goalkeeper's primary mission as well as anyone: stopping shots from going into the goal. After a strangely poor season in 2021-22 in which his save percentage plummeted from 80% to 59% (which cost Atletico about 16 more goals than usual), Oblak was Oblak again. He stopped 77% of shots on goal, right at his career average and second best among primary LaLiga goalkeepers. He positions himself properly, he directs the always-solid Atleti back line, and if anything makes it through the defensive wall, he stops it.

Once again, he makes goalkeeping look pretty easy.

Expectations for 2023-24:

It feels like he has been a world-class goalkeeper for decades now, but Oblak is still only 30 years old, well within the prime age range for keepers. He signed a lengthy contract extension last summer, too, which should keep in Madrid for a while longer. Atletico might have been the best team in Spain over the last half of the season -- with Oblak a prime reason for that -- so with Diego Simeone returning for his 13th season as manager and Oblak returning for his ninth, it should be more of the same at the Wanda Metropolitano in 2023-24. -- Connelly

4. Mike MAIGNAN, AC Milan/France

Why he's on the list:

Apparently, Nathan Collins is still talking about it, and by "it," we mean the incredible save Maignan made to deny Collins and Ireland a goal and a draw against France back in April in Dublin. The ball was going in the top corner and everyone on the pitch, in the stadium, in the world thought it was in. Not Magic Mike. This is what he does: make seemingly impossible saves. If you add his great distribution and his leadership, you get one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and at his age (he turns 28 in July), there is much more to come from him.

Expectations for 2023-24?

This will be Maignan's first full season -- including the Euros in Germany -- as France's No. 1 keeper. It is a huge campaign for him to establish himself even more, and to make a name for himself at the international level after Hugo Lloris retired from Les Bleus in January. With a glittering 14-year era now over, Maignan has to keep improving and show he's capable of a similar run. He was decisive in Milan's title-winning season in 2022 and in their great Champions League run last season. We can expect another top domestic and European year in 2023-24. -- Laurens

3. ALISSON, Liverpool/Brazil

Why he's on the list:

Easily the best pure shot-stopper and one-on-one goalkeeper in the Premier League, Alisson didn't just save plenty of shots last season; he also saved Liverpool's season time and time again, helping keep them in the race for the top four until the bitter end and ensuring they at least secured a Europa League spot. (This was more impressive than it sounds, too: The Reds spent much of the season mired in midtable until a late run of results vaulted them up.)

While his save percentage (70.3%) seemed low this past season, there's simply nobody better at snuffing out danger -- especially when being the last man behind a Liverpool defense that is generous to opponents in terms of shot quality and volume. This reliability wasn't lost on his manager, Jurgen Klopp, who hailed him as the most consistent player of Liverpool's season.

"That's actually not bad news -- it's good news, because if we are not in a great shape and the level of the goalie drops as well, then we would have been completely lost," Klopp said.

Expectations for 2023-24? The lack of Champions League football is a bitter pill for the Reds given their history, but Alisson should again anchor the team as they try to compete on all fronts. A deep run in the Europa League is a bare minimum ask, but no matter what, the Brazil star should continue to put up big numbers between the posts. -- Tyler

2. Marc-Andre TER STEGEN, Barcelona/Germany

Why he's on the list:

Ter Stegen was the backbone of Barcelona's championship-winning campaign. Like many goalkeepers, he gets wiser with age and has improved considerably with his ball distribution from the back. He's also smarter and more commanding of his penalty area: Barcelona's LaLiga title owes a lot to his conceding only 20 goals over those 38 games. During one of Germany's recent international friendlies, Ter Stegen even prevented climate activists from gluing or chaining themselves to the goalposts. It wasn't a political statement by the veteran keeper; he just tries to clear everything that comes his way.

Expectations for 2023-24:

Ter Stegen will aim to cement himself as the No. 1 for Germany at next summer's European Championships on home soil. With Manuel Neuer suffering a painful leg break last winter, it might ultimately be Ter Stegen's chance to finally overtake Bayern Munich's and Germany's long-time captain. At Barcelona, Ter Stegen will remain as important as ever in directing the Catalans' defence and collecting as many clean sheets as possible. What works in Ter Stegen's favour is the fact that, at 31, he has a lot of room for growth. -- Eckner

1. Thibaut COURTOIS, Real Madrid/Belgium

Why he's on the list:

A year on from his career-defining performance to date -- making a record nine saves in Real Madrid's 1-0 Champions League final win over Liverpool -- Courtois has maintained his form over the past 12 months and consolidated his status as the world's best goalkeeper. There was just one slight dip thanks to a sciatic nerve problem before the 2022 World Cup, but otherwise, Courtois is so consistent that regular Madrid watchers take his one-miraculous-save-per-game ratio for granted.

For a long time, Courtois -- always outspoken, analytical and interesting when talking about the game -- made no secret of feeling underappreciated compared to his rivals in the Premier League. Not anymore. Courtois has outstripped them all.

Expectations for 2023-24:

Courtois is now one of Real Madrid's senior players. With the rest of the team in transition -- and new faces galore in defence, midfield and attack -- Courtois will be ever-present again next season, leading Madrid's charge to wrest the LaLiga title back from Barcelona.

However, his international future with Belgium is less clear, after a row with coach Domenico Tedesco during last month's international break. Courtois claimed he'd pulled out of the squad for a Euro qualifier with Estonia due to injury; Tedesco said he'd left in a huff after being overlooked for the captaincy. The goalkeeper later said he was "deeply disappointed" that the coach had made private discussions public. Courtois has 102 caps for Belgium; right now, it's unclear if or when he'll get another. -- Kirkland