Thursday, 22 February 2024
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The best goalkeeper in Europe this season is French and plays in Ligue 1 – he is unknown to the general public


You may not know this Ligue 1 goalkeeper, and yet he carries his team thanks to his saves. Statistics even show that he is the best goalkeeper in Europe.

While PSG still has to deal with the irregularity of Gianluigi Donnarumma, with Anthony Lopes and Pau Lopez underperforming for OL and OM at the start of the season, a little-known Ligue 1 goalkeeper is carrying his club this year. His team is currently the 6th best defense in the French championship, with only 15 goals conceded, and that is largely thanks to him. Indeed, he boasts some impressive stats, proving that he has saved numerous goals for his club this season.

It can be difficult to measure the quality of a player, especially a goalkeeper, and compare hundreds of players to each other. But statistics allow us to take an objective look, and often reflect a good part of reality. In this little game, it is Arthur Desmas, Le Havre goalkeeper, who stands out. By comparing the number of goals he has conceded and the number of goals expected after the opposing shots, we realize that he has saved no less than 7 goals for his team since the start of the season, according to analyzes from the Opta site, specialist in sports statistics.

This is much more than any other goalkeeper in the five major European championships: he is followed by Alvaro Valles (Las Palmas, 4.7 goals saved) and Marcin Bulka (Nice, 4.5 goals saved) in the ranking. Opta measures expected goals by “post-shot expected goals”, that is to say the sum of goals that each goalkeeper should have conceded on average in each match, taking into account the quality of each opposing shot, as well as that the position of the shooter, the part of the body used, the position of the goalkeeper and defenders…

Before the interventions of its goalkeeper, Le Havre is only the 13th defense in Ligue 1, and should have conceded 20 goals according to post-shot expected goals. In 14 matches, Arthur Desmas saved an average of one goal every two matches compared to the average level of other European goalkeepers. He is also the 3rd goalkeeper in Ligue 1 with the highest percentage of saves (78.3%), behind Marcin Bulka and Gianluigi Donnarumma, but who suffer strikes on average that are further away and less dangerous.

Note, however, that these statistics do not take into account “own camp” goals: Le Havre has conceded two this season, by Yoann Salmier against Lille and by Arouna Sangante against OM, which are therefore not measured for Arthur Desmas (he “statistically” conceded 13 goals, not 15). But on the two goals in question, Arthur Desmas is not at fault and could not even do absolutely anything. Note that even if these two goals were entirely attributed to him, he would still be the best goalkeeper in Europe with 5 goals saved.

If he is the best in Europe on his line since the start of the season, Arthur Desmas is relatively average in his restarts and in his play with the ball, as well as in his aerial outputs in particular. In these areas, he has completely correct statistics, but which do not stand out from the rest, neither in Europe, nor in Ligue 1.

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