Hart, Ruddy, Foster, Green and Davis; Is 25 % enough?

Manchester City, Norwich City, West Bromwich Albion, Southampton and QPR are the only Premier League sides to boast first choice Premier League goalkeepers ahead of next season.

With La Liga boasting a figure closer to 75% Spanish number one's is this effect relative of the state of English football?

Joe Hart is unquestionably one of the world’s best goalkeepers but in 2011/12 there was an alarmingly low amount of first choice English goalkeepers in the Premier League with this season being no different. After losing Paul Robinson but gaining Rob Green and Kelvin Davis; then adding the remainder of John Ruddy and Ben Foster; currently the tally stands at 5.

In comparison there are only six ‘foreigners’ considered first choice between the sticks for 2012/13’s edition of La Liga; with one of them being Athletico Madrid’s Chelsea loanee and heir apparent to Petr Cech’s throne Thibaut Courtois, the number effectively drops to five. Twenty five percent is the figure, but in one league the national team representatives are the minority; the other the majority.

This isn’t a xenophobic argument either. Watching magnificent goalkeepers over the years such as Schmeichel, Cech and Van Der Sar has been a joy but the worry is when so many foreign goalkeepers are brought in at a young age, immediately leapfrogging the English lads.

Szczesny, Al Habsi, Bogdan and Krul come to mind. Are they better then who they prevented, perhaps, but that is beyond the point? With the way they construct their limitations on non EU players in Spain teams have to give national youngsters a chance.

Blooding in young goalkeepers is much more difficult than an outfield position. There’s no hiding place for a goalie and big stage mistakes at a young age can be devastating psychologically.

However Real Madrid played Iker Casillas from a young age, but maybe that’s unfair because he was instantly world class, but Victor Valdes? He really struggled at first but was consistently preferred to Robert Enke and Rustu at Barcelona. Now who wouldn’t call him world class?

It could be a question of talent but in the last 10-15 years numerous highly talented and hotly tipped goalkeepers’ careers have seemingly flashed by. Chris Kirkland, Nicky Weaver, Richard Wright, Stuart Taylor; even the lesser known Rhys Evans and Shaun Allaway didn’t cut the mustard and now find themselves discarded to lower league obscurity. Injuries play their part, maybe even attitude, but nonetheless it doesn’t bode well.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. There is an abundance of talented keepers out there at the moment with Jack Butland, Jason Steele, Fraser Forster, Frankie Fielding, Alex McCarthy, Alex Smithies, Scott Loach, and David Stockdale just waiting for a chance at the highest level.

If any of them grab it when it comes the number might be increasing steadily year by year, but at the moment it’s a crowded party with English goalkeepers being left standing on the porch ringing the doorbell wondering why they never received an invitation.

Do the figures alarm you? Or is the goalkeeper argument simply a paradox of too many foreign players in the Premier League diluting our talent pool?

images: © nasmac, © Ben Sutherland

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