Premier League is finally discovering the value of goalkeepers

1 / 3
Manchester United's David de Gea. (AFP)
2 / 3
Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois. (AFP)
3 / 3
Manchester City's Ederson Moraes. (AFP)
Updated 12 March 2018
0

Premier League is finally discovering the value of goalkeepers

LONDON: In an era of extraordinary transfer fees, goalkeepers remain bizarrely undervalued. When Manchester City laid out €40 million ($49 million) on Ederson Moraes last summer so long had it been since the investment of a record fee on the position that the young Brazilian’s was misreported as such.
Ederson’s price tag remained well shy of the €52 million Juventus paid Parma for a 23-year-old Gianluigi Buffon in 2001. As remarkable as Buffon’s continued assured presence in the Italian champions’ defense is the relatively low cost of individuals who handle the game’s hardest currency — goals.
The same age as Buffon on his switch from Benfica with at least a decade of high-level performance ahead of him, Ederson’s fee equated to just 18 percent of the release clause that enabled Paris St.Germain to spirit Neymar out of Barcelona. Amid the unprecedented largesse with which City bought a new defense this season, the Brazilian’s price ranked only fourth — behind two fullbacks and a central defender.
Yet there is no question over which of Pep Guardiola’s gilded acquisitions has been most important to City’s march to the Premier League title. Ederson’s shot stopping has won multiple points, his comfort and bravery on the ball facilitated the Catalan’s dogmatic attacking tactics.
Saves at key moments have deflated opponents already enervated by City’s obsessive possession, carousel passing and smart tactical fouls. Ederson’s interventions have prevented victories collapsing into draws, draws slipping into defeat, and, in the case of a barely credible double save at Old Trafford, broke the belief of City’s sole serious challenger for the title.
Contrast all that with Guardiola’s first attempt at buying a better keeper; a benighted Claudio Bravo dropped mid-season after going almost a month without making a save. Around that time Bravo’s save rate for the Premier League season stood at 11.1 percent. Ederson’s this term is 69.7 percent.
As Jose Mourinho noted earlier this season, Guardiola had gone through three national team goalkeepers in a year to find the right solution. “Pep arrived, he had the goalkeeper of England; he doesn’t like. He buys the goalkeeper of Barcelona; he doesn’t like him. He buys another one; now he likes him.”
The one Guardiola likes is to be rewarded by an upgraded contract. His status as the second-most expensive goalkeeper of all time, however, may not survive the summer window.
At least three elite keepers are waiting to see what that market brings them. At Chelsea, Thibaut Courtois is stalling on signing a new contract worth £200,000 ($277,000) a week. At Manchester United, David de Gea is waiting for a club that has grown dependent on his goal-saving prowess to bring his salary to a similar level as Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez. At Atletico Madrid, they are worried that Jan Oblak will be bought out of his contract by one of Europe’s more affluent outfits.
Both Courtois and De Gea have long been courted by Real Madrid, whose president is no fan of current stopper, Keylor Navas. In 2015 Madrid were a delayed fax away from getting De Gea out of Old Trafford and they know that the Spaniard wants to return to his hometown at some point in his career. Mourinho, though, has already publicly stated his opposition to a transfer that would easily surpass Ederson’s in cost.
If Courtois does not commit to a contract extension, Chelsea will adopt their usual pragmatic approach to cashing in on a valuable asset. The London club’s asking price is expected to be €100 million, they will hope De Gea stays at United, then try and draw PSG into a bidding war with Madrid for the Belgian.
Atletico are trying to work out if one of Oblak’s admirers is ready to pay his €100 million release clause. PSG flirted with the Slovenian last summer before UEFA brought down the Financial Fair Play hammer. Arsenal and Juventus like him, while Liverpool consider the 25-year-old the best available solution to one of their glaring defensive deficiencies.
If one defensive domino falls, all three could end up changing clubs. The fees will not reach Neymar-Mbappe-Coutinho levels, but they should come closer to reflecting the real value of an elite keeper in the modern game.


Green triple-double fuels Warriors’ comeback win

Updated 19 May 2019
0

Green triple-double fuels Warriors’ comeback win

  • The Golden State Warriors rallied for a 110-99 victory over the Trail Blazers in Portland
  • The two-time defending champion Warriors trailed by as many as 18 in the second quarter

LOS ANGELES: Draymond Green exploded for a seventh career playoff triple-double Saturday as the Golden State Warriors rallied for a 110-99 victory over the Trail Blazers in Portland and a 3-0 lead in the NBA Western Conference finals.
The two-time defending champion Warriors trailed by as many as 18 in the second quarter, but with Green driving them they produced another dominant third period to seize control of the contest and the series.
No team has come back from an 0-3 deficit to win an NBA playoff series. The Trail Blazers will try to fend off elimination when they host game four on Monday.
Green scored 20 points with 13 rebounds and 12 assists, keeping the Warriors afloat in the first half before superstar Stephen Curry came alive with 21 of his 36 points after the interval.
“There aren’t many guys in the game that can (affect both ends of the floor),” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Green beforehand. “Draymond can do both.”
His intensity was on display on both ends of the court, and on the sidelines as he exhorted teammates to keep pushing.
Klay Thompson added 19 points for the Warriors, who were again without injured star Kevin Durant.
“All my teammates, my coaches have been telling me, ‘Draymond, get to the hole, be aggressive,’” Green said of his mindset.
“We’ve got guys out there, Steph, Klay and those guys who draw a lot of attention, so it’s on me to do my job and come through for those guys.”
CJ McCollum led Portland with 23 points. Damian Lillard, relentlessly double-teamed by the Warriors, added 19 points.
Center Meyers Leonard, making just his third start of the season, finished with 16 points.
Leonard made the most of his opportunity early, connecting on five of seven shots from the field in the first half on the way to 13 points.
The Trail Blazers, energized in front of a rowdy home crowd at the Moda Center, quickly built a 10-point lead before the Warriors trimmed it to two — 29-27 — at the end of the first quarter.
But the Blazers kept the pressure on, stretching the lead to 18 in the second quarter.
A steal by Lillard produced a thunderous dunk from Leonard, then Portland’s Seth Curry stole the ball from his superstar brother Stephen and raced for a three-pointer that made it 60-42 with 2:28 remaining in the first half.
Portland took a 66-53 lead into the locker room, but the Warriors responded with a monster third quarter, using a 22-6 scoring run to take their first lead of the game, 77-76 on a layup by Kevin Looney — assisted by Green.
Golden State out-scored Portland 29-13 in the quarter to lead by three heading into the final frame.
The Warriors pushed the lead to 11 with 4:51 remaining and the Trail Blazers wouldn’t get the deficit below eight from there.