“For a goalkeeper, there is no hiding place” – Brad Friedel
Brad Friedel and his 600-plus career first team caps are absolutely right. The keepers between the posts are a spectator for a large portion of the match, but when their name is called there’s no more important player on the pitch. In eFootball PES 2020, a quality keeper can be the difference between gaining or missing out on three points. Keepers have come a long way in both real life and PES over the years.
Sweeper keepers such as Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer are all the rage with their ability to play from the back with their excellent passing skills and aggressive nature. Taking this all into account, it’s important that we discuss three variables that affect goalkeepers, and to a greater extent, all outfield players (more on them to come in future articles).
PES 2020 has embraced two distinctive goalkeeping “playing styles”:
- Offensive Goalkeeper – A keeper playing a sweeper-type role who often comes out to cover the area behind the defense.
- Defensive Goalkeeper – A solid goalkeeper who prefers to stay around the goal line.
Both playing styles have their pros and cons. Offensive goalkeepers tend to be more aggressive leaving their box, which can be quite beneficial when playing teams that play balls over the top and/or teams with a pacey striker who can get behind your defense with a well-timed run. Conversely, they’re also prone to more mistakes as leaving their box can result in an empty net or a sending off if they get it wrong.
Defensive goalkeepers will hold their line more, meaning that you’ll have to be quick to use the “call keeper out command” (triangle on both XB1 and PS4), but they’re usually good at getting their shot-stopping angles correct.
Additionally, there are also some important goalkeeper “playing skills” PES 2020 incorporates:
- Penalty Save – Enables better goalkeeping reactions against penalty kicks.
- GK Long Throw – Improves the range on throws by the goalkeeper.
- GK Low Punt – Enables players to take long, accurate punts with a low trajectory.
- GK High Punt – Enables goalkeepers to take long, high punt kicks that end up deep in opposition territory.
In a nutshell, the more playing skills your keeper has the better. Playing skills can be acquired through training, match minutes and by a manager who has certain attributes. Having the penalty save playing skills is a no-brainer, but for my style, I prefer the “GK low punt” as it really helps to punish opposing teams that are in danger of sending numbers forward. In PES 2020, I feel it’s a faster way of starting a counter than the “long throw” style of keeper. Target men (big strong strikers who excel with their back to goal like Chelsea’s/France’s Olivier Giroud) are always fun in PES, so if you want to hoof it up the field and play off a striker, the “GK high punt” is a desirable playing skill to have.
Lastly, but hugely important, is a new concept called Inspire, explained by Konami as:
Players may have the Inspire characteristic based on their abilities. When on the ball, they inspire a teammate behavior that complements their playing skills.
So for PES 2020, individual playing skills can unlock certain skills or actions when on the ball, but additionally their Inspire characteristics can influence how their/your teammates behave off the ball. A player like Real Madrid’s Eden Hazard, a renowned dribbler, has two-star Inspire traits for dribbling and low pass. When you’re on the ball with Hazard, your teammates will react like he’s going to dribble towards the goal. They will spread out to try and avoid bringing extra defenders near him, while also taking into account his two-star “low pass” Inspire trait by positioning themselves in more advantageous positions.
With no further explanation needed, let’s look at the top five keepers in PES 2020 under the age of 21.
#5 – Matvei Safonov – FC Krasnodar (Russian Premier League)
75 OVR – 20 Years Old
Tucked away in the Russian Premier League, Safonov is the first keeper to make this list. Despite having a generic face, he has the right combination of size, 191 cm (6-foot-3), and GK attributes (80-84 in all GK categories). With “offensive goalkeeper” and that aforementioned size, it means he’ll be quick to come off his line and “get big” in those situations where attackers get behind your back four. With his price tag being affordable for nearly any club, Matvei could be an excellent option for a buy and loan, or a cup keeper rotating in when the form arrow dictates.
#4 – Justin Bijlow – Feyernood (Dutch Eredivisie)
76 OVR – 21 Years Old
Possibly the next Edwin van der Sar, Bijlow appears to be next in line to take the leap from the Dutch Eredivisie to a big-time club. At 190 cm (6-foot-3), Justin is a massive presence between the sticks, boasting an 86 reach rating in PES 2020. Furthermore, a “GK long throw” trait should help those managers who like to play counter-attacking football. He still has work to be done in his GK catching (79) but an 84 in GK clearing, combined with his size, means that he’ll be solid at punching away shots and crosses. He’s definitely still a work in progress, but an affordable price tag and a strong lineage of Dutch keepers (Cillessen at Valencia, van der Sar at Man United, etc.) means that he’s a safe bet for your scouting department.
#3 – Wuilker Faríñez – Millonairos (Categoria Primera A – Colombia)
78 OVR – 21 Years Old
Farinez is what you’d call a hidden gem in PES 2020. Stashed away in the Colombian first division, Wuilker already has 22 national team caps for Venezuela to his name. He has such a modest price tag that he’s a steal who can walk into a lot of mid-table starting XI’s, or be stashed and sent out on loan to bigger clubs. Additionally, there’s not much focused training needed with him because he’s already an “offensive goalkeeper” with GK low punt, penalty save and GK long throw in his arsenal. 89 GK reflexes and 85 GK awareness mean that he’ll be quick to react in one-on-one situations, even despite being on the shorter end at 181 cm (5-foot-9). Still, of the keepers on this list, Farinez might be the best deal of the bunch.
#2 – Alban Lafont – Fiorentina (Serie A – Italy)
79 OVR – 20 Years Old
Lafont is currently on loan with Nantes in French Ligue 1, but there’s no denying his potential in PES 2020. With offensive goalkeeper and GK low punt in his pocket, you’ll need to focus your training on stopping penalties. With a modest market value, he should be very attainable and definitely worth keeping around as a second keeper if you’re using a big club that already has an established older top goalie (PSG, Juventus, Bayern Munich).
#1 – Gianluigi Donnarumma – AC Milan (Serie A – Italy)
85 OVR – 20 Years Old
The pride of Milan, Gianluigi is the heir apparent to his namesake, Gianluigi Buffon, for the Italian national team. After making his senior debut at the age of 15, Donnarumma is the prize jewel of this group. However, with a hefty price tag in excess of $55 million, he’s only really in the market of top clubs. Already an 85 overall, he uses his impressive size (196 cm/6-foot-4) for a 92 reach with 96 reflexes, meaning that he’s getting a hand to a lot of shots other keepers would be picking up out of the net. With his other goalkeeping stats nearing 90, Gianluigi is a player you don’t have to focus too many training points on. He is also an immediate upgrade for clubs like Juventus and Arsenal, while also appealing to clubs with aging keepers like Bayern Munich and PSG.
Goalkeepers, like strikers, can be the difference in a result. They might not carry the same attention-seeking personas, but an elite one can be a rock for years to come. Some like Farinez and Bijlow might require some extra attention on the training pitch in order to reach their potential, but if you have the opportunity to splurge on a Donnarumma you should.
What keepers have you uncovered during your Master League adventures?