In soccer, the last line of defense (the goalkeeper) is very crucial. It is arguably the most underrated role in the team.
Having a good and reliable goalkeeper cannot be overemphasized, especially at the highest level of football.
Goalkeepers occupy the most scrutinized position in football. In modern times, they are even required to be as good with their feet as they are with their hands.
Furthermore, because ‘keepers tend to improve as they age, it is difficult for youngsters to break through in the role.
Hence, you won’t find many teenagers on this list.
Nowadays, there are already a number of young goalies around who have established themselves in first teams and with high potential to keep improving for seasons to come.
Here, TOP SOCCER BLOG presents you with the top 10 young goalkeepers in the world.
1. Gianluigi Donnaruma — PSG (23)
After establishing himself as AC Milan’s number one ‘keeper at the age of just 16, it has always been evident that Gianluigi Donnaruma had a big future ahead of him.
Demonstrating that he is the rightful heir to Gianluigi Buffon, Donnarumma was in sensational form as Italy won Euro 2020. He was named the Best Player and Goalkeeper of the Tournament.
Being only 22 years old then, the wonder goalie conceded just 4 goals throughout the tournament.
He joined PSG for free in 2021 and won the Ligue 1 in his debut campaign.
Donnarumma had to share game time with Keylor Navas and made 24 appearances across all competitions for the French giants.
However, he has established himself as the club’s number one this season. The Italian has played every game for PSG under new manager, Christophe Galtier.
Right now, the Italian shotstopper is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
It is clear to see that Gianluigi Donnarumma is set to be one of the greatest goalkeepers of his generation.
2. Gavin Bazunu — Southampton (20)
Gavin Okeroghene Bazunu is a Republic of Ireland goalkeeper that currently plays for English Premier League side, Southampton.
Bazunu started his career at Shamrock Rovers, making his first team debut in June 2018 at the age of 16.
He joined Manchester City in February 2019 but spent the next two seasons on loan at Rochdale and Portsmouth.
At the latter, he was named Portsmouth’s Player of the Season.
On the 17th of June 2022, Gavin Bazunu joined Southampton on a 5-year contract for a reported fee of £12 million.
He is one of the best young goalkeepers in the Premier League.
He is also of the most effective sweepers in the league, as Bazunu is not shy about coming off his line and shutting down opposition attacks by claiming crosses, or making clearances outside his box.
Furthermore, he is of Nigerian descent but decided to represent Ireland — with which he has made 13 appearances.
3. Illan Meslier — Leeds United (22)
Illan Meslier is a 22-year-old French goalkeeper that currently plays for Leeds United in the Premier League.
He broke through at French club, Lorient. He moved to Leeds United in 2019, initially on loan.
In February 2021, Meslier became the first goalkeeper under the age of 21 to record 11 clean sheets in a single Premier League season.
He has been impressive this season. Notably, Meslier’s performance against Liverpool in October — in which he made 9 saves to give his side a 2-1 away win and take them out of the relegation zone — saw him named the Man of the Match.
He is an assured and safe presence in goal, and posseses great distribution along with phenomenal reflexes.
And according to some, he is arguably one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League.
Due to his appearance and physical stature, the Frenchman’s goalkeeping style has been compared to that of Belgian goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois.
4. Maarten Vandevoordt — Genk (20)
Maarten Vandevoordt came through the youth ranks of Belgian club, KRC Genk. He established himself as the club’s first-choice ‘keeper at a very young age.
Despite being just 20 now, Vandervoordt has already made appearances on the big stages — especially in the UEFA Champions League.
He became the youngest goalkeeper to start a match in Champions League history when he was just 17 years old.
Subsequently, top clubs came seeking the Belgian’s signature.
On the 12th of April 2022, Bundesliga club RB Leipzig announced that they had completed a deal to sign Vandevoordt in 2024 on a five-year contract running until 2029.
5. Alban Lafont — Nantes (23)
Having progressed through the academy of AS Lattoise, Alban Lafont signed for Toulouse in 2014 — where he became the youngest goalkeeper ever to play in the Ligue 1 upon making his debut the following year (at the age of 16).
Despite his age, Alban Lafont is already one of the best goalkeepers in Ligue 1.
He went on to make over 100 appearances for the club across all competitions before joining Fiorentina in 2018.
In 2019, he returned to France on a loan deal to Nantes; the deal was later made permanent in 2021.
Lafont has represented France at various youth levels and featured for the nation at the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Lafont’s main qualities that make him one of the best young goalkeepers in football is his speed, quick reflexes, and agility.
The 23-year-old is able to react to second shots after saving a first.
6. Diogo Costa — Porto (23)
Diogo Costa is currently one of the highly-rated upcoming goalkeepers in soccer.
Coming through Porto’s youth system, he won the UEFA Youth League in 2019.
Subsequently, he was promoted from the reserve side to the first team in 2019, winning a domestic double of the Primeira Liga and the Taça de Portugal in his first season.
He broke into the starting line-up in 2021 (aged 22), helping Porto to a second domestic double and being named in the Primeira Liga Team of the Year.
In November, he played his first FIFA World Cup match, a 3-2 group stage win against Ghana. This made him the youngest Portuguese goalkeeper to play in a major international tournament (age 23).
He played every minute of the World Cup as Portugal got eliminated by Morocco in the quarter-finals.
During the game, Costa misjudged a cross when coming for the ball; and Youssef El-Nesyri headed in the only goal of the game.
Furthermore, El-Nesyri’s goal saw him make one of the highest jumps in football history.
7. Lucas Chevalier — Lille (21)
Lucas Chevalier is a youth academy graduate of Lille. He was the club’s third-choice goalkeeper behind Mike Maignan and Orestis Karnezis during their upsetting league title win in 2020/21.
In July 2021, he joined Ligue 2 club Valenciennes on a season-long loan deal.
He returned to Lille this last summer and made his debut on the 10th of September 2022. He has been putting up impressive displays since.
8. Gabriel Slonina — Chelsea (18)
At the age of 14, Gabriel Slonina became the second youngest signing in Major League Soccer (MLS) history and the youngest signing ever for Chicago Fire.
In 2021, he made his professional debut for Chicago Fire against New York City FC, becoming the youngest starting goalkeeper in the league’s history at 17 years and 81 days old.
Slonina made 4 saves to keep a clean sheet on his debut, becoming the youngest goalkeeper to record a clean sheet in MLS history.
In August 2022, Gabriel Slonina signed for Chelsea for a transfer fee that could potentially reach up to $15 million with add-ons.
The 18-year-old remained on loan with Chicago Fire till the end of the 2022 MLS season before joining Chelsea on the 1st of January 2023.
9. Giorgi Mamardashvili — Valencia (22)
At a very young age, Giorgi Mamardashvili made a name for himself in his native country, Georgia.
In 2021, he joined La Liga side, Valencia, on a one-year loan deal — with a buyout clause.
He was initially assigned to the reserve team but impressed manager José Bordalás in pre-season.
As a result, he started in the opening match of the season against Getafe and impressively kept a clean sheet.
Convinced by his performances, Valencia permanently signed Mamardashvili.
Last season, the Georgian kept 10 clean sheets in 23 matches. At a point, he recorded 560 minutes in a row without conceding a goal.
Mamardashvili is not just one of the best young goalkeepers in the world, but currently one of the best goalkeepers in La Liga.
10. Luis Marquines — Atletico Nacional (19)
Luis Miguel Marquines is a Colombian goalkeeper playing for Atlético Nacional in the Colombian Primera A division.
He joined the club in 2021 and has since caught the eyes of international scouts with his solid displays between the sticks.
He reportedly has a release clause of €2.2 million.
Other notable top young goalkeepers in the world include:
- Masato Sasaki, 20 (Kashiwa Reysol)
- Julen Agirrezabala, 22 (Athletico Bilbao)
- Maduka Okoye, 23 (Watford)
- Samuel Soares, 20 (Benfica)
- Luis Maximiano, 23 (Lazio)
- Andriy Lunin, 23 (Real Madrid)
- Svetoslav Vutsov, 20 (Slavia Sofia)
- Daniil Khudyakov, 18 (Lokomotiv Moscow)