In this post, I'll be highlighting four promising Sorare goalkeepers who are currently playing second fiddle in their clubs. While many are familiar with big names like Mamardashvili, Vandevoordt, Diogo Costa, or Meslier, I'll be focusing on underdogs who I believe have the potential to become the top keeper for their teams next season.
1). Julen Agirrezabala - Athletic Bilbao
Quite sure you can't write his name correctly if you would hear it. Damn those Basque names, that's why Kepa in Chelsea is just Kepa and not Kepa Arrizabalaga. Let's hope it's Julen in the future, but to be honest it's a great surname.
If you are into international football the name Agirrezabala must ring a bell, as a very talented goalkeeper from the Athletic Bilbao academy. Where, besides Kepa and Unai Simon, other great keepers were playing for Athletic. I'm sure you know Zubizarreta, a great name in international football, and Sorare, and more recently Iraizoz who played more than 10 seasons for the club.
The special thing about Athletic Bilbao is that only Basque players are allowed to play for them, which makes that their pool of players to choose from is not that big, and they for sure ask a lot of money if teams want to buy their players, as they know it will not be so easy to find a replacement of the same level. But there comes Agirrezabala, a talented goalkeeper who represented the Spanish national team U21 5 times, and is waiting to become number 1. Since Unai Simon is the number 1 for Spain, in every transfer market window he is linked to a lot of great teams in Europe, but for now, he remains at the club. Athletic know in case he would be sold, his replacement is there in Julen.
The big question is what will happen in case Unai Simon is still in Bilbao by the end of August? I would expect Julen to leave, most probably on loan, to gain some game time as the number 1. The lower-tier la Liga teams might be an option, but a 2nd division Liga team seems to make more sense. As we know that over the last couple of months, that's where the rumors came from. Last winter Sporting Gijon was amongst the interested teams. A goalkeeper with a great future ahead of him and someone to keep an eye on for next season.
*I wrote this before he played the match as the starting goalkeeper against Atletico Madrid last weekend. Athletic plays in the Copa semi-final and apparently the manager wanted to give him an extra match(es) to prepare him better for those important Copa matches.
2). Dogan Alemdar - Rennes
3 out of the 20 most valuable Sorare u23 goalkeepers are Turkish. Besides Alemdar, also Besiktas gk Destanoglu and Ümraniyespor gk Berke Özer (on loan from Eyupspor).
Alemdar already played a full season as number 1 at the age of 18 for Turkish side Kayserispor. After that season he got a transfer to the French sub-top team Stade Rennais. While everybody expected him to be benched his first season, knowing that top signing Gomis was there (came from Dijon for 10mil), he got his chance after Gomis got injured in march, playing till the end of the season.
Although Alemdar made a more than a decent impression in the Ligue 1, Rennes not only got Gomis back after his injury but also Mandanda joined the team until 2024. As expected, it was Mandanda who became number 1, with Alemdar as his backup. With Gomis now on loan to Serie B team Como till this summer, ending up being the 3rd keeper for Rennes.
So with what will happen with Alemdar next season, does he really want to stay as the backup? I don't think so. Rennes will want to make sure he has game time.
Can it be in Rennes, well I think that makes sense? Mandanda turning 38 can be a perfect guide for the young goalie in what might be his last season as a professional goalkeeper. But will Mandanda be ok with becoming number 2, that remains unclear for now. If not in Rennes, would see Alemdar go on loan somewhere in Europe and be the number 1 for a full season, and then come back in 2024 as the main goalkeeper from the French side, with Mandanda out of contract.
3). Fabian De Keijzer - Utrecht
What would have happened with De Keijzer if he wouldn't be injured last summer? That's for sure a question that he will ask himself. De Keijzer was the number 1 in Utrecht last season since wintertime, where he performed quite well since he got his chance as the starting gk. He began that season as number 3 behind Paes en Oelschlägel, but both couldn't convince and De Keijzer did.
When he got injured, it became clear Utrecht needed a new goalie for (at least) the beginning of the season. Calvin Raatsie joined from Ajax, but Barkas on loan from Celtic was clearly the move for the Greek goalkeeper to become the number 1, at least until De Keijzer was back.
But Utrecht didn't really need to change their starting goalkeeper, because Barkas performed well and has the confidence of both managers this season.
Barkas will not stay in Utrecht as the Utrecht TD confirmed, the option to buy is too expensive. Not an uninteresting fact for us Sorare managers.
Here comes De Keijzer. He's playing some matches for Utrecht B, who plays in the Dutch 2nd division, but it's time for him to become number 1 once again. That doesn't mean Utrecht will not sign a competitor, it makes sense they will, but they can also just stay with De Keijzer, Nijhuis, and Raatsie as their goalies and make some financial room for other signings. De Keijzer has a contract till 2024 with an option for another year.
4). Berke Özer - Ümraniyespor (on loan from Eyupspor)
Sometimes you can make the wrong decisions in life, and I think that's what happened last summer to Berke Özer. Out of contract, he had a lot of possibilities, but with the transfer market closing by the end of August, the Turkish shot-stopper was still without a team.
Young Özer started to make his name when he was on loan to the Belgian side Westerlo from Fenerbahce at the age of 19. Westerlo was in the Belgian 2nd division at that time, but he played all the matches as the starting gk and made a very good impression for 2 seasons in a row.
Going back to Fenerbahce he had to compete against Bayindir, which is not easy. He did play some matches as number 1 in Fenerbahce when Bayindir was injured, and therefore got a lot of teams interested in him. Gent and Anderlecht in Belgium, Rangers from Scotland, and many more. At these teams, he could have become number 1, maybe not immediately but at least not in the same abysmal situation as he is in at Fenerbahce. We've featured Berke Özer already a few times on our Sorare blog, most recently in our wildly popular 10 goalkeepers to buy right now article.
I don't really understand why it didn't happen. Apparently, he wanted to be number 1 for 100% somewhere in Europe, but where will you have that for sure, especially at that age? In September he did sign a contract for the Portuguese club Portimonense, all due respect, that's not the same kind of name on a European level, compared to the names mentioned before. Portimonense sold their number 1 gk Samuel to Porto in the summer. So they were searching to add a new goalkeeper to their squad, but Japanese gk Nakamura, (already the backup keeper for more than 1 season) did perform, so no reason to change gk.
This means Özer will not have played any match for the Portuguese club, cause in January he changed teams already again. He signed for Turkish side Eyupspor, the current number 2 in the Turkish Second division. And a couple of days later he arrived on loan to Ümraniyespor, the number last in the Turkish first division, where he is currently the backup from Orkun Ozdemir. It would make sense Özer still plays this season for the Turkish club, depending on the results, but for next season let's see what will happen. Anyway, this talented goalkeeper should have game time, and if Eyupspor makes a move to the 1st division next season, Özer could be their man.