It’s widely considered that most goalkeepers won’t hit their prime until after their 30th birthday.
The likes of Gianluigi Buffon, who recently turned 40 and Iker Casillas who is 37 years old, prove that there is definitely life after entering a fourth decade.
Yet the talent of the new-breed of keepers may just show that a keepers’ prime could be closer to his adolescence than his mid-life.
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This 30+ theory we have have stemmed from the world of Football Manager where goalkeepers hit their prime between 32 and 35.
In reality it’s the complete opposite, with all of Europe’s top teams opting for keepers in their twenties and leaving the ageing stoppers sitting on their hands on the bench.
The importance of youth between the sticks is most apparent in the Premier League.
Liverpool broke the world transfer record for a goalkeeper when they signed the 26-year-old Alisson and the Brazilian number one has (with a helping hand from Virgil van Dijk) transformed the Reds into serious title contenders.
Chelsea then toppled Liverpool’s outlay on a goalkeeper by securing the signature of the then 23-year-old Kepa Arrizabalaga for a jaw-dropping £71m back in August.
Enough has been said of 28-year-old David De Gea’s genius at Old Trafford and, just across Manchester, the Ederson has been more or less faultless for Man City.
The one possible exception in the league would be Hugo Lloris, who is still performing admirably at the comparatively senior age of 32.
Even then, the last few years have seen a smattering of Lloris errors – think the World Cup final.
It is a similar story in Europe’s other top leagues where Italian juggernauts Juventus opted for 28-year-old Wojciech Szczesny as their successor to the departing Buffon.
Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegan is a baby at just 26, the same age as ‘The Best’ goalkeeper in the world Thibaut Courtois.
Across Madrid and between the sticks for Atletico is Jan Oblak, who is also 26. Have you spotted the pattern yet?
While the younger goalkeepers are excelling at their craft some of the old guard have been put on the backbenches.
A good case in point would be the timeworn Petr Cech who was ousted by Chelsea when they recalled Courtois from Atletico in 2014.
Cech was largely the main man under Arsene Wenger but has been reduced to Europa League and cup cameos with Unai Emery preferring Bernd Leno.
One man who can best sympathise with Cech’s plights is Joe Hart.
In May 2016, Hart had just won the Premier League with Man City and his position as England’s number one was solid.
*Enter Pep Guardiola.*
Fast forward 30 months and Hart is well into his dreaded 30s, fighting for Premier League survival with Burnley and will most likely never wear that England jersey again.
Even the aforementioned Casillas and Buffon were leaps and bounds above their current levels when they were younger.
Buffon was 27 when Italy won the World Cup and Casillas was 28 when he captained Spain to win the Jules Rimet back in 2010.
Since 2001, only Buffon has been in the UEFA Team of the Season whilst being over the age of 32 and in that infamous Football Manager sweet-spot.
So is there any truth in the theory that old is gold between the posts?
It’s true that an experienced and collected head is required to be successful, yet some of the youngsters appear to have that maturity in abundance.
It has become an international case of out with the old and in with the new.
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