A hallmark of any team aspiring to achieve greatness is a top-notch goalkeeper between the posts. Invaluable in their ability to frustrate opponents and clinch the tightest of games for their team, a goalkeeper’s work is paramount to a team’s success.
Great athleticism, bravery, and handling aren’t where a goalkeeper’s duties end in the modern game. Goalies like Ederson have shown that having ability on the ball is now a vital attribute that the most successful teams look for in their netminders.
Many of the best teams in the world elect to play out from the back, with goalkeepers adapting to be a playmaker in their own right. Whether it’s being the catalyst in launching quick counter-attacks or slowing the pace of the game to allow the team to reorganise, goalkeepers are always in thick of the action these days.
In this article, we dive into the goalkeeping world to find the best young shot-stoppers, ready to take up the mantle for your side in Football Manager 21.
Choosing the best young goalkeepers (GK) in Football Manager 2021
To be selected for this list as a wonderkid, players had three criteria to meet:
- An age of 21-years-old or younger;
- A positional rating of 20 in the goalkeeper position;
- A minimum potential ability rating of 140 or -85 (140-170).
Potential ability (PA) in FM 21 is classed in two different ways for players, with the most common being a number between zero and 200. The other form of potential ability (PA) is shown as a negative number between -1 and -10, given to players whose potential is more uncertain.
These negative PA ratings equate to a potential range that the player’s ability will fall between at random in each new save game. The negative PA ratings follow this pattern -10 (170-200), -95 (160-190), -9 (150-180), -85 (140-170), and so on.
You’ll find the top-five GK wonderkids with the most potential ability featured in the body of this article, with a table listing all the other wonderkid goalkeepers of FM 21 at the foot of the page.
Gianluigi Donnarumma (156 CA / 182 PA)
Team: AC Milan
Best Roles: Sweeper Keeper (Support/Attack)
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 156 CA / 182 PA
Value: £22 million
Wages: £195,068 per week
Best Attributes: 18 Jumping Reach, 18 Reflexes, 16 Agility
It’s only fair to call the start of Gianluigi Donnarumma’s career meteoric. The Milan youth product was thrust into the starting XI at 16-years-old during the 2015/16 season, replacing senior figure Diego López in the crease. The teenager went on to keep 11 clean sheets in 31 games that season, gaining all kinds of plaudits for his impressive performances.
Now 21-years-old, Donnarumma is already an accomplished goalkeeper playing for one of Europe’s biggest clubs. Not many players at his age can boast over 200 club appearances, and he’s also managed to keep 78 clean sheets for the Rossoneri during his unchallenged reign as the number-one in Milan.
Starting FM 21 as an exceptional first-team goalkeeper, Donnarumma commands his box from set-pieces utilising his 18 jumping reach, 16 aerial reach, and 16 strength to claim the ball, relieving pressure from his defence.
Very much a traditional goalkeeper, Donnarumma’s ball-playing ability is fairly limited by his eight vision and seven passing. Improving this wonderkid’s distribution will help any side with a tendency to play out from the back.
Alban Lafont (130 CA / 156 PA)
Team: Fiorentina (on-loan to Nantes)
Best Roles: Sweeper Keeper (Defend)
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 130 CA / 156 PA
Value: £3.2 million
Wages: £17,863 per week
Best Attributes: 17 Jumping Reach, 16 Reflexes, 15 Stamina
Alban Lafont started his career with French side Toulouse, making his Ligue 1 debut in 2015 at 16-years-old. After two successive clean sheets, he became their first-choice goalkeeper for the next three seasons, making 106 appearances and keeping 35 clean sheets.
Fiorentina were impressed enough by the young goalkeeper’s performances to spend £7.2 million to bring Lafont to Italy in 2018. Quickly forcing his way into the number-one spot for Viola, keeping ten clean sheets in38 games. Fortunes turned, however, at the start of last season, when a two-year loan deal with FC Nantes was agreed to carry on his development in France.
Best deployed in the sweeper-keeper defend role, Lafont’s stats of 14 positioning, 14 one-on-ones, and 14 rushing out (tendency) make him more than capable of dealing with loose balls in behind. Sporting 13 throwing and 14 strength mean that he’s more suited to distributing the ball with his hands, emphasised by the 11 kicking that he possesses.
While Lafont does spend the first season on-loan in FM 21, it’s not necessarily a bad thing as he will have more time to develop toward his potential. The wonderkid goalkeeper may end up costing a little bit more than his current value suggests, but his 156 PA makes the price worthwhile.
Illan Meslier (139 CA / 155 PA)
Team: Leeds United
Best Roles: Goalkeeper (Defend), Sweeper Keeper (Support/Attack)
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 139 CA / 155 PA
Value: £18.5 million
Wages: £25,000 per week
Best Attributes: 17 Jumping Reach, 17 Aerial Reach, 16 Agility
Currently Leeds United’s first-choice goalie in the Premier League, Illan Meslier played each of the team’s opening 12 games of the season. During that spell, the Frenchman managed to keep four clean sheets for the recently promoted side.
Meslier spent his youth days with FC Lorient in his native France, before being loaned to Leeds United last season – where he primarily spent the campaign as Kiko Casilla’s deputy. His luck turned when the Spaniard received a lengthy suspension, with Meslier keeping an excellent seven clean sheets in ten games to help Leeds lift the Championship trophy.
Meslier’s cat-like 16 reflexes, 16 anticipation, and 16 agility make him a fantastic athletic option in FM 21. The left-footed Frenchman is also decent with the ball at his feet, boasting 12 technique, 12 passing, and 12 first touch, all of which can be nurtured further to make the GK wonderkid fluent in the art of distribution.
Dedicating some training time to improve his 11 decisions and ten vision will only make Meslier more assured in all aspects of his goalkeeping duties. Having signed for the Peacocks this season, he won’t want to discuss moving anywhere just yet. Still, you might find more luck attempting to secure his services in the January transfer window or after seeing how Leeds’ season concludes.
Diogo Costa (126 CA / 155 PA)
Best Roles: Goalkeeper (Defend), Sweeper Keeper (Defend)
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 126 CA / 155 PA
Value: £1.7 million
Wages: £3,443 per week
Best Attributes: 15 Bravery, 14 Reflexes, 14 Decisions
A product of FC Porto’s youth system, Diogo Costa has risen through the ranks in Portugal, patiently waiting to breakthrough and show his promise. He made his senior debut in last season’s Taça de Portugal competition, in which he made seven appearances to claim four clean sheets en route to the Dragões lifting the trophy.
Although Costa has an impressive record of 18 appearances and nine clean sheets to date, he has only played four league games since his debut. The lack of Liga NOS action implies that he’s struggled to claim the number-one spot at the Estádio do Dragão.
Costa comes equipped with very all-rounded attributes in FM21, presenting an excellent base for development. The wonderkid goalie’s 14 handling, 14 reflexes, and 13 one-on-ones attest to his ability in the net; these are bolstered by his mental ratings of 14 determination, 14 decisions, and 15 bravery.
Accurately deemed a breakthrough prospect in FM 21, Costa can be signed for a fee of around £20 million. The more adept negotiators out there might even agree on a cheaper fee for this wonderkid, but he will demand a wage of £40,000 per week – a substantial increase from his current contract.
Tim Rönning (123 CA / 155 PA)
Best Roles: Goalkeeper (Defend)
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 123 CA / 155 PA
Wages: £1,221 per week
Best Attributes: 19 Jumping reach, 17 Aerial Reach, 15 Handling
Playing for Swedish side Elfsborg, Tim Rönning developed his talents in the club’s academy before making his debut in September 2019. He went on to play eight times at the end of the 2019 Allsvenskan season, keeping two clean sheets as the club resigned to an eighth-place finish.
Rönning’s performances impressed the current manager, Jimmy Thelin, enough to appoint the young goalkeeper as his number-one. An informed decision by all accounts, as Rönning played all 30 games for Elfsborg last season, keeping nine clean sheets to help the team to a second-place finish in the Allsvenskan standings.
This FM 21 wonderkid goalkeeper takes utter control of his box in games. Thanks to his incredible 19 jumping reach, 17 aerial reach, 15 handling, and 14 command of area, Rönning can deal with any cross. The towering Swede also possesses great goalkeeping attributes of 14 reflexes, 14 positioning, and 14 anticipation, further adding to his ability in goal.
The weakest part of the Swede’s game is his seven kicking and seven passing. While he is lacking ability with the ball at his feet, he makes up for it with 13 throwing and 14 strength. So, advising the 6’5’’ goalkeeper to throw the ball out will certainly improve his distribution statistics in-game.
All the wonderkid goalkeepers (GK) in FM 21
In the table below, you’ll find all of the best young goalkeepers to sign in FM 21. Players are sorted by their potential ability rating, those with the negative potential abilities sorted per the lowest PA within their ranges.
|Name||Age||Team||CA||PA (PA Range)||Wage p/w|
|Gianluigi Donnarumma||21||AC Milan||156||182||£195,068|
|Alban Lafont||21||Fiorentina (on-loan to Nantes)||130||156||£17,863|
|Illan Meslier||20||Leeds United||139||155||£25,000|
|Luís Maximiano||21||Sporting CP||125||154||£8,926|
|Maarten Vandevoordt||18||KRC Genk||115||-9 (150-180)||£4,112|
|Pontus Dahlberg||21||Watford (on-loan to BK Häcken)||119||145||£3,000|
|Lazar Carevic||21||Barcelona B||108||145||£2,720|
|Djordje Petrovic||20||FK Čukarički Stankom||101||144||£650|
|Christian Joel Sánchez||21||Sporting Gijón B||106||142||£2,300|
|Michele Cerofolini||21||Fiorentina (on-loan to AC Reggiana)||84||142||£825|
|Andriy Lunin||21||Real Madrid||120||-85 (140-170)||£6,000|
|Manuel Gasparini||18||Udinese||101||-85 (140-170)||£2,100|
|Stefan Bajic||18||Saint-Étienne||100||-85 (140-170)||£1,000|
|Alejandro Iturbe||16||Atlético Madrid B||70||-85 (140-170)||£325|
|Gaëtan Coucke||21||KV Mechelen||110||140||£4,569|
|Steven Benda||21||Swansea City||105||140||£1,600|
|Rok Vodisek||21||Genoa (on-loan to Triglav Kranj)||100||140||£6,501|
Now you know all of the wonderkid goalkeepers in FM 21: who will you choose to put between the sticks?