Onana replacing De Gea at Man Utd ranks high in list of biggest Premier League goalkeeper upgrades

Jason Soutar
Premier League goalkeepers Kepa Arizabalaga, Edouard Mendy, Loris Karius and Alisson.
Premier League goalkeeper upgrades include Mendy for Kepa and Alisson for Karius.

The role of the goalkeeper has changed dramatically over the last 15 years. Once upon a time, Petr Cech was the best goalkeeper in the Premier League, yet he was horrendous with the ball at his feet. He could get away with that during his prime at Chelsea, but that spell at Arsenal was…interesting.

So, on that note, we have limited this list to transfers over the last 10 years, so no Cech for Carlo Cudicini, for example.

Inspired by Manchester United’s signing of Andre Onana, here are the ten biggest goalkeeper upgrades in the Premier League since the summer of 2013.


10) Adrian/Joe Hart to Lukasz Fabianski (West Ham)
West Ham conceded 68 goals in the Premier League in 2017/18 as Joe Hart and Adrian played 19 top-flight games each. No team let in more, so the signing of a new goalkeeper was one of Manuel Pellegrini’s top priorities going into the 2018 summer transfer window. He managed to get Lukasz Fabianski from Swansea City for a measly £7million.

The Polish shot-stopper had four very productive years in Wales after leaving Arsenal in what was another major goalkeeping upgrade (Fabianski for Michel Vorm) and has been very consistent for the Hammers since becoming their No. 1 five years ago.

Since then, West Ham have conceded 55, 62, 47, 51 and 55 goals in each of their Premier League seasons. Obviously they are still a bit leaky, but there is no arguing that Fabianski has been a brilliant signing. It’s one of the few things Pellegrini got right.


9) Marek Rodak to Bernd Leno (Fulham)
Marek Rodak enjoyed a brilliant 21/22 campaign as Fulham were promoted to the Premier League without breaking a sweat. He kept 14 clean sheets in 33 appearances after Marco Silva dropped Paulo Gazzaniga, but this was not enough as the Portuguese head coach delved into the transfer market to complete one of the coups of the 2022 summer window.

Rodak did not deserve to be replaced after a great Championship season, but this is a brutal sport and the possibility of landing Bernd Leno for a measly £4m was far too good to ignore. The German ended up being a contender for signing of the season as he helped Fulham comfortably stay in the top flight, ending the Cottagers’ run of three consecutive Premier League seasons finishing in the bottom three.


8) Martin Dubravka to Nick Pope (Newcastle United)
After touching on Cech, it feels slightly hypocritical to include a goalkeeper who can barely kick his own backside, yet here we are.

Nick Pope is one of the worst ball-playing goalkeepers in the Premier League. Thankfully, there is a huge upside to his game and that is in the goalkeeping department, which is also quite crucial as many of us modern football hipsters tend to forget. Oh, and it is not like he was replacing someone able to dance with the ball in Martin Dubravka.

Pope is a huge upgrade on the Slovakian and at £10m? You can’t grumble at that. Of course, the former has a better back four in front of him than Dubravka ever had at St James’ Park, but the gulf in ability is not up for debate.

Nick Pope made a fine save to earn Newcastle a point at Crystal Palace


7) John Ruddy to Rui Patricio (Wolves)
Similar to Rodak at Fulham, John Ruddy came up with Wolves as a solid Championship goalkeeper, but this did not prevent him from being replaced at the earliest possible opportunity.

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo continued his Portuguese revolution by signing his country’s first-choice ‘keeper Rui Patricio for around £10m. This was an incredible signing for a newly promoted club, who were admittedly one of the best Championship sides ever, as Patricio joined Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho and co. at Molineux.

Nuno’s side qualified for the Europa League after finishing seventh in the Premier League, conceding 46 goals, better than all of West Ham’s defensive campaigns with Fabianski between the sticks. Wolves finished seventh again in 19/20, conceding 40 goals that year.

Patricio left to join Jose Mourinho at AS Roma in the summer of 2021, helping the Giallorossi win the maiden Europa Conference League in his debut season at the club.


6) Maarten Stekelenburg/Joel Robles to Jordan Pickford (Everton)
Maarten Stekelenburg and Joel Robles both played 21 games across all competitions in 16/17 before Ronald Koeman brought in Jordan Pickford from Sunderland for around £25m. Going over his stats at Everton would be pointless because they have been utter dross for quite a while now.

Pickford divides opinions, though it has to be said he has improved his game over the last two seasons and the Toffees would probably be a mid-table Championship team at best if it wasn’t for England’s No. 1.

He might have a mistake in him but Pickford is solid with the ball at his feet and a very good shot-stopper, there are not many better than him in Our League and this is the first gargantuan upgrade on this list.


5) Kepa Arrizabalaga to Edouard Mendy (Chelsea)
This one would be slightly higher if Edouard Mendy had not lost all of his goalkeeping ability overnight.

Kepa Arrizabalaga is still the most expensive goalkeeper in the history of the sport, yet he has nowhere near justified the £72m fee Chelsea paid to sign him from Athletic Bilbao in 2018. After two disappointing seasons from the Spaniard, Frank Lampard decided to sign Mendy from Rennes for a measly £22m.

This decision instantly paid off as Mendy helped the Blues win the Champions League in his first season at the club, claiming The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper and UEFA Champions League Goalkeeper of the Season awards in the process.

But Mendy became pretty pants after winning the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal in 2022. It was as if he had won everything he fancied and could not be bothered anymore. Mendy has left for Al-Ahly and Kepa is Chelsea’s No. 1 once again. Gulp.

READ MORE: Van Dijk reigns supreme in shockingly bad list of all 13 Premier League signings who cost £70m-plus


4) David De Gea to Andre Onana (Manchester United)
The inspiration for this list, there is no doubt replacing David de Gea with Andre Onana is a huge upgrade and will certainly ease Erik ten Hag’s headaches next season.

Everyone knows De Gea’s biggest flaw as a player: his ability with the ball at his feet. Onana’s biggest strength happens to be just that, while he is more commanding, a better shot-stopper, quicker, and far less error-prone than his Spanish counterpart.

Onana could end up flopping – that is the beauty of  this sport – but it seems unlikely. Surely he can’t be any worse than De Gea?

MAILBOX: Have Man Utd smashed this window or absolutely f***ed it with Onana fee?


3) Tom Heaton to Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa)
After failing to get a proper chance at Arsenal, Emiliano Martinez’s opportunity came following an injury to the aforementioned Leno, in what became one of the biggest butterfly effect moments in football history. If Neal Maupay didn’t bump into Leno, Lionel Messi would not have a World Cup.

Martinez helped the Gunners win the FA Cup but Mikel Arteta opted to keep the German and sell the Argentine. Aston Villa were very willing to take Martinez and as they say, the rest is history.

Now one of the best goalkeepers in the world, Martinez is a vital cog in Unai Emery’s Villa system and will be hoping to help his side end their 27-year wait for a major trophy, either in the Conference League or one of the domestic cup competitions.


2) Claudio Bravo to Ederson (Manchester City)
We are really in the bracket of going from disastrous to world-class now. Pep Guardiola made the very bold decision to drop Joe Hart when he joined Manchester City in 2016, replacing him with Claudio Bravo, who had a very questionable stint at the Etihad.

At first, it did not work out and the PFMs were overjoyed at a fancy foreign goalkeeper flopping after replacing Hart. And while the Bravo experiment did not work, the trajectory of Hart’s career and the eventual signing of Ederson has helped Guardiola wipe any egg off his face.

Ederson is ridiculously consistent and his ball-playing ability is frightening. If he fancied it, he could probably slot into Rodri’s position without any fuss.


1) Loris Karius to Alisson (Liverpool)
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool team was complete with the signing of Alisson, who had actually shipped seven goals against the Reds in a Champions League semi-final just months before.

Unfortunately for Liverpool, they also conceded six in that tie and went into the final of the competition with Loris Karius as Klopp’s first-choice ‘keeper. Everyone knows how the showpiece match against Real Madrid went. It was the end of the road for Karius at Anfield and Alisson came in to replace the shaky German.

Alisson completed Klopp’s puzzle as they dominated Europe to get their hands on the Champions League. Having lost the final a year before, as well as the Europa League and League Cup finals, Klopp’s side would also win the Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup.

Nailing the signings of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Alisson, Virgil van Dijk, Gini Wijnaldum, Andy Robertson and more played a huge part in making the Reds a European juggernaut again.