Álvaro Vallés: The Modern Sweeper Keeper

Club: Las Palmas

Nationality: Spain

Position: GK

Preferred Foot: Right

Height: 6’3”/191cm

Age: 26

Strengths: reflexes, speed, line-breaking passes, composure, technical security, claiming crosses

Areas for Development: top-flight experience


It has been quite the arduous rise for Álvaro Vallés. After honing his trade at the academies of Real Madrid and Real Betis, Vallés plied his trade on loan at fourth-tier Gerena before making the move to Las Palmas in 2018. He would cut his teeth with their B team in the third division before eventually competing for a first-team place, solidifying a starting spot in goal in 2022/23 and leading the Canarian side back to the top-flight.



Las Palmas have impressed in their first La Liga season in six years thanks in large part to Vallés, who has made the most of his first Primera season and emerged as one of the standout goalkeepers in the division. A 6’3″ shot-stopper with incredible reflexes, Vallés is a ball-playing goalkeeper who passes every test: the eye test, the data test, the mentality test and the price test.


Whenever he has to make a quick decision, Vallés can react well and scan the scenario at a moment’s notice, boasting solid awareness and capable of anticipating where the shot is travelling. He’s skilled at altering his body orientation and reaching the optimal position to make the save. He boasts a save percentage of 74.2%, whilst he is also saving an astonishing 37.5% of the penalty saves that he has faced this season.


Under the reign of García Pimienta, Las Palmas have adopted a fearless approach in their return to La Liga and have heavily prioritized having the ball — only Barcelona (64.6%) averaged more possession than Las Palmas (59.8%) this season. They tend to build in a hybrid of a 3-4-1-3 / 3-5-3, with Vallés pushing up and operating as an extra center back in order to create a numerical overload at the back and play through the opponent’s pressing structure.


Vallés has the confidence and pausa to manipulate the press, waiting until the opponent rushes forward before playing a clever pass through the lines, remaining calm and composed and dictating the play with his passing like a press-resistant midfielder. Comfortable in possession, Vallés is a two-footed player who can receive the ball under pressure from either side and execute passes to perfection, and his teammates are always willing to give him the ball and entrust his technical security in dangerous situations.



It should come as no surprise that Vallés ranks in the 99th percentile for touches (56.71) and defensive actions outside the penalty area (2.65) as well as the 96th for average distance of defensive actions, per FBRef.com. Moreover, he ranks in the 91st percentile amongst goalkeepers in Europe’s top five leagues over the past year when it comes to Post-Shot Expected Goals minus Goals Allowed (+0.21), perhaps the most reliable metric when it comes to determining a goalkeeper’s shot-stopping ability.

The Las Palmas goalkeeper acts as a sweeper for the team and is often positioned higher up due to Las Palmas playing a higher defensive line. Similarly to Manuel Neuer, he’s somebody who always backs himself to take risks, come off his line, and make crucial interventions in order to prevent the opposing attack from getting into a dangerous goal-scoring scenario.


Despite a dreadful run of form that saw them close out the campaign with one win, six draws, and 10 defeats, Las Palmas managed to finish 16th in the table, seven points clear of the drop. Now, it’s time for a major rebuild at the Estadio Gran Canaria. García Pimienta will depart his post and become Sevilla’s new manager, and it seems that quite a few key players like Alberto Moleiro and Saúl Coco will follow him out the exit door.



With a contract until 2025, it seems a matter of time before Álvaro Vallés becomes the next player to depart Pío Pío. A 1v1 specialist who is quick off his line and skilled at maneuvering past the pressure, he has emerged as one of the finest goalkeepers in Spain this season, and he could very well end up surpassing Pedri (€23m) as Las Palmas’ club-record sale this summer.


By: Ben Mattinson / @Ben_Mattinson_

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Denis Doyle – Getty Images