A mean double pivot...

8 brilliant goalkeepers we’re convinced should really be playing outfield

Goalkeepers being forced to play as de-facto outfielders in possession is both a blessing and a curse in modern football, but for as long as the epidemic exists, we’re going to roll with the punches.

The nerds love it, your dad loathes it, the hipsters sit conflicted somewhere in between while they wipe the spilt IPA off their trousers. It’s a bizarre new trend, is the ball-playing, press-resistant goalkeeper.

While we’ve got a lot of time for the traditionalists who’ve stuck a fingersave middle digit up to it, ultimately that doesn’t get you very far in the game anymore. If you don’t get with the programme, you get left behind.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are the freaks who thrive on the trend. They thrive so much, in fact, that we’re genuinely convinced they could play outfield. Not do a job, play and play well. Here are those weirdos.


Obviously. More obvious than chippy tea on a Friday.

It’s gone beyond a joke now with Ederson. We’ve all known for a long time that he could genuinely play outfield for Manchester City, but now even Pep has realised it, letting him take a penalty in the Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid.

We genuinely don’t think it’ll be long before he follows in the footsteps of David James and gets a run out as an outfielder for the club.

Stefan Ortega

It must be something in the water at Guardiola’s City these days, because when Ederson finds himself out injured, Stefan Ortega spawns in and look just as good – if not marginally better – at both the traditional goalkeeping stuff and the batsh*t crazy in-possession stuff.

The German quite literally has a better Cruyff turn on him than half of the midfielders in the Premier League, and we’re not exaggerating. Couple that up with his passing and we firmly believe that he’d put in a solid shift in midfield.

Lucas Chevalier

A young up-and-comer who simply doesn’t have a choice when it comes to rejecting progressive, ‘woke’ goalkeeping as your dad might suggest, Chevalier isn’t exactly a press-resistant beast you’d find at City, but his passing range will have your mouth watering.

Extremely comfortable stepping up between his centre-backs in the first phase of play, Lille’s young stopper sends laser-accurate missiles down the pitch, splitting lines with ease, but has also perfected the cheeky little clip over the oncoming attacker.

This season in Ligue 1, the 22-year-old boasts a 99.3% medium-range pass completion and a 45.1% long-range completion rate. Put him in defence and let him spray them around for fun, with a few crunching tackles between. He’ll look brilliant.

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Jason Steele

We’re still trying to figure out how Steele wasn’t good enough for freefalling Championship side Sunderland, destined for League One in 2017-18, only to become first choice at Brighton years later as one of the most progressive goalkeepers in the league in possession.

The 33-year-old has peaked at just the right time and is now keeping Bart Verbruggen out of the goal at Brighton, because he’s a freak with the ball at his feet. Perhaps that freakish, progressive play is why he didn’t work under Simon Grayson and Chris Coleman.

Whatever it is, Steele is undoubtedly capable of doing a shift outfield. He should probably ditch the gloves altogether – he looks more like a winger than a goalkeeper anyway.

Emiliano Martinez

In a list littered with goalkeeping freaks who are more press-resistant than most midfielders, Martinez sticks out somewhat as the anomaly, here. Just hear us out, though.

Martinez is a nutter. Most goalkeepers are, but the Argentine takes it to a new level. A brilliant, traditional goalkeeper with so many screws loose that his confidence is simply unwavering no matter what.

Imagine him ratting in your midfield and getting opposition players to tie themselves up in knots of anger? Case closed.

Andre Onana

At his best, Onana is among the very best in the world in his position. He’s been unable to really show that since signing for Manchester United, however.

We’ve seen what he was capable of at Inter, though, looking imperious as they pushed City all the way in the Champions League final. His body of work as a whole is brilliant and he possesses a wicked passing range, even if we’ve not seen it much this season.

We propose that United forget about him as a goalkeeper altogether, stick him in at centre-back for a bit of consistency for once, and let him do the fancy sweeper stuff in front of a more traditional stopper. If not for effectiveness, then for fun.

Manchester United's goalkeeper Andre Onana catches the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at the Old Trafford stadium stadium in Manchester, England, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023.

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Lukasz Skorupski

Unknown to most outside of the Serie A enthusiasts and the hipsters, Skorupski has been the man between the sticks for Thiago Motta’s exceptional Bologna side this season.

The 33-year-old Pole has massively improved with the ball at his feet this season, proving crucial to Bologna’s buildup play from the back. The way he’s adapted so late on in his career fills us with plenty of hope that we could yet make a number six out of him.

Seriously, his passing range is sublime.

Manuel Neuer

Of course we’re finishing with Neuer. If it wasn’t for him, we probably wouldn’t be writing this article.

Sweeper keepers existed long before the German, but it was his emergence at Schalke and Bayern Munich which repopularised the phenomenon and took things to another level.

Neuer was Cruyff turning strikers in his box and getting himself involved in build-up play in some of Europe’s biggest games before it was even cool.

Some might say he’s too old for a stint outfield, but we think he’d lap it up. Given the way he’s bounced back from a self-inflicted leg break, we think he might even have his best years ahead of him.

Go on, Manuel. Ditch the gloves and give us another new era of absurdity.