*With the 2018-2019 European club seasons having come to a close, Between the Sticks is honouring the best goalkeepers from the top five European leagues (Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1, Premier League, and Serie A). Bronze, Silver, and Gold Gloves will be awarded to the top three goalkeepers from each league. You can access the pieces on the other winners by clicking on the embedded hyperlinks.*
Bronze: Kevin Trapp
Games played: 33
Clean sheets: 8
Saves made: 115
Save percentage: 67.6%
Goals allowed: 48
At this point last season, it looked as though Kevin Trapp’s time as a starting goalkeeper at a top European club was all but over. After all, everything that could’ve gone wrong for him at Paris Saint-Germain had.
Despite his 77 total PSG appearances going into the 2017-2018 season, Trapp ended the campaign with just 14 matches played (only four of which came in Ligue 1). Alphonse Areola, who had returned from a loan to Villarreal the season before, had swiped the number one spot from under Trapp’s feet and forced the German to take up domestic cup duties. Factor in the arrival of Italian icon Gianluigi Buffon in July and Trapp’s name fell further down the pecking order. By PSG’s second game of the 2018-2019 Ligue 1 season, Trapp wasn’t even named to their bench, let alone to their starting XI.
Cue an Eintracht Frankfurt loan move.
With Lukáš Hrádecký having bounced to Bayer Leverkusen and Frederik Rønnow not looking ready to replace him, Eintracht decided to bring in Trapp—their former goalkeeper from 2012 to 2015—on a year-long loan deal. And a return to his former club proved successful.
In 33 league appearances, Kevin Trapp posted some of the top numbers in the Bundesliga. His 115 saves were the third most made by a Bundesliga ‘keeper last season, and his goals against average of 1.45 put him just outside of the league’s top five in that category. He conceded a total of 48 goal; a feat which gave Eintracht Frankfurt the fifth lowest goals allowed tally in the entire Bundesliga. To top it off, he posted eight clean sheets, was named to UEFA’s Europea League Squad of the Season, and was voted by video gamers to the FIFA 19 Bundesliga Team of the Season.
Trapp’s PSG contract expires next year, and with his parent club rumoured to sign a new goalkeeper following Gianluigi Buffon’s departure, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that Trapp will return to Frankfurt for next season. The club have reportedly submitted a €10 million offer to the Parisians for Trapp’s permanent signature, although they will have to fight off interest shown by Newcastle United.
If Eintracht Frankfurt do snag Trapp on a permanent deal, they’ll be bringing back the third best goalkeeper from the 2018-2019 Bundesliga.
Silver: Yann Sommer
Games played: 34
Clean sheets: 13
Saves made: 112
Save percentage: 72.7%
Goals allowed: 42
Yann Sommer isn’t a stranger to “best goalkeeper in the Bundesliga” shouts. Ever since he was brought in to replace the departing Marc-André ter Stegen, the 30-year-old Borussia Mönchengladbach guardian has been a frustrating goalkeeper for opponents to deal with. His unique positional stance and acrobatic reflexes have made him an enjoyable goalkeeper to watch, and Bundesliga fans are well aware of the talent the Swiss brings to the position.
Sommer had a few more fans keeping tabs on him this season though. Prior to the 2018-2019 campaign, Sommer was coming off of a successful 2018 World Cup that saw him make 12 saves in four appearances (including big stops vs. Brazil) and earn some ‘keeper of the tournament shouts. He was also linked in transfer rumours to Arsenal and Barcelona, two clubs with very large and very vocal fan bases.
The bigger audience only meant that more people witnessed the greatness that is Yann Sommer. The Swiss international played every minute of the 2018-2019 Bundesliga season, making him one of just two goalkeepers to do so. Despite the workload, Sommer posted some of the best numbers in the league. He kept 13 clean sheets, made 112 saves, kept a save percentage of 72.7%, and conceded just 42 goals; all totals that put him among the top five in each category.
Sommer’s excellent numbers translated into club success. Thanks to their Swiss ‘keeper, Borussia Mönchengladbach—who finished the season with 55 goals scored, the lowest among the Bundesliga’s top nine clubs—clinched a European spot for the first time since the 2015-2016 season. It also meant that they finished with the third lowest goals conceded tally in the entire Bundesliga.
Sommer will turn 31-years-old later this year and he’s still being linked to a move to Barcelona’s back-up position, but don’t you dare think that he’ll become a club’s number two anytime soon. The Swiss international is a top-class goalkeeper and one of the best in the Bundesliga, and he proved that yet again last season.
Gold: Péter Gulácsi
Games played: 33
Clean sheets: 15
Saves made: 91
Save percentage: 75.8%
Goals allowed: 27
It was only six years ago that Liverpool took a pass on Péter Gulácsi. The Hungarian, who was only 23-years-old at the time, had been a part of the club since he was a teenager, having initially featured for Liverpool’s 2008 treble-winning reserve team. Gulácsi could never break into the first team though, and the Reds let him go on a free transfer to Austria in 2013.
Fast forward to 2019 and Gulácsi is arguably the best goalkeeper in the German Bundesliga.
Despite the top-class exploits of Kevin Trapp and Yann Sommer, no Bundesliga goalkeeper comes close to boasting the same influence Gulácsi did this past season. While the Hungarian’s saves total (91) may not be as high as those of Trapp (115) and Sommer (112), his clean sheet total (15) and save percentage (75.8%) eclipse those of Sommer (13, 72.7%), Trapp (8, 67.6%), and every other ‘keeper in the Bundesliga. His goals conceded tally is also unmatched; he’s the only Bundesliga goalkeeper with 30+ appearances to have conceded less than 30 goals.
Similar to Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak, Péter Gulácsi is a reserved ‘keeper who usually lets his goalkeeping do the talking. He prides himself on his excellent positioning, although he isn’t afraid to come off of his line. He’s also more than capable of pulling off a big save when he needs to.
Gulácsi was incredibly important for RB Leipzig last season. The Red Bulls scored the lowest amount of goals among the league’s top four clubs (63), but they also conceded the lowest amount of goals in the entire Bundesliga (29) thanks in large part to Gulácsi.
With another season of German league football under his belt, the 29-year-old is experiencing his prime at the perfect time. Expect his name to appear in this list again for more seasons to come.