Top 5 of the best sweeper keepers in international football

February 04, 2021

by xfcedi

manuel neuer - germany, bayern munchen

Eduard Bănulescu

The sweeper-keeper role has come to define many of the most succesful teams in modern football. But, just what is a sweeper keeper and who are the best players to take on this role?

What is a sweeper keeper in soccer/football?

The sweeper keeper role has been around forever, but truly gained notoriety through the tactics employed at FC Barcelona by the great Johann Cruyff. Other of his students, former players, players turned managers have employed the role predominantly in their teams (Pep Guardiola, Ronaldo Koeman).

Essentially, the role proposes that the keeper act as a defender at times, sweeping up loose balls and passing them accurately towards his teammates. The role requires great control of the ball.

Who is the best sweeper keeper?

Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munchen)

The German is, certainly, one of the most visible and decorated sweeper keepers. Both for Germany and Bayern Munchen, Neuer has proven to be an integral part of his team’s attacking buildup. As a sweeper, highlights of the German getting the best of poachers looking to take advantage of a poor offside trap, have become viral on the internet.

Ederson (Manchester City)

Much of the world learned of the sweeper-keeper and his importance once Manchester City’s Joe Hart was unceremoniously replaced by Pep Guardiola in a team that he had captained. Instead, the tactician brought in a fresh-faced Brazilian keeper who passed the ball as well as his midfielders and tackled as hard as the defenders. City’s results went up, and so did the popularity of the sweeper-keeper.

Alisson Becker (Liverpool)

Not to be outdone by their Premier League rivals, Liverpool went searching for their own sweeper keeper. A now-famous series of errors from Loris Karius had robbed the Reds of the Champions League trophy. Klopp used some of the money brought in by Philippe Coutinho’s transfer to recruit Alisson Becker, another Brazilian sweeper keeper with a safe pair of hands and amazing ball control. There have even been some to remark that, if needed, either Alisson or his rival Ederson, could easily start as outfield players for their respective clubs.

Marc-André ter Stegen (FC Barcelona)

The role of the sweeper-keeper is a natural fit for Barcelona. Cruyff’s vision was for every one of his eleven players to be able to play the ball quickly and efficiently. Marc-André ter Stegen is the first line of attack and last line of defense for his team. Sure, the team’s results have oscillated recently, but there is no doubt that the German embodies the role of a sweeper keeper.

Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)

There’s little that the veteran keeper hasn’t seen, or isn’t able to do. Gianluigi Buffon, especially in his early days at Parma, and later Juventus, was an excellent sweeper keeper. The Italian could seamlessly integrate himself within the team’s defensive setup, accelerating to meet through balls, and sliding into risky challenges with great skill. At 42 years of age, his appetite for football has not diminished.

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