This summer, Ederson became the most expensive goalkeeper of all time after
an impressive title-winning season at Benfica. It took a while, but at 23, he finds himself
in the company of the best goalkeepers in world football.
Side note: This top 50 is solely players 23 and under, and we intended to publish this list and the article on August 16. However, some last-minute emergencies arose, and we had to push the publication back two days. Thus, we are making a special exception for Ederson, who at the date of publication, is 24 years and 1 day old.
Ederson arrived in Portugal at the age of 16 to play in Benfica’s youth ranks. He
spent a couple of years there, but eventually left to the lower-tier side Ribeirão. but after
only one season at the Farmalicão, Rio Ave signed the talented Brazilian and, in no
time, he was back playing at the highest stage of Portuguese football, fighting for a place
At Rio Ave, Ederson was partnered with very experienced goalkeepers, but one
of the most important mentors he had was Cássio. Cássio never made it to a big club,
but that didn’t mean he wasn’t good; he was a solid presence between the posts and a
solid player coming out of the box. Another thing that Rio Ave developed in Ederson was
superb kicking ability. At 18, Ederson Moraes could already kick the ball past midfield;
this might sound useless, but it was something Rui Vitória made use of once Ederson
returned to Benfica.
Jan Oblak had left to replace Thibaut Courtois at Atleti, so Benfica picked up
another Brazilian veteran, Júlio César to back-up (and eventually replace) Artur Moraes.
Artur left the following season so Benfica was, once again, looking for a number two to
back up Júlio César and that player was Ederson. At the time, a lot of Benfica fans were
unhappy with the deal, mostly because he was a Jorge Mendes player and JM normally
has a scheme of placing players at the Luz without them even playing, but, this clearly
wasn’t the case.
Ederson showed Benfiquistas in the 2015 pre-season what he could do, making
some great saves, using his feet well to place and pass the ball and most importantly, he
showed them the same calm attitude that Oblak had in goal. For the first time since the
Slovenian was in goal, Ederson displayed a confidence in goal that mirrored blossoming
That was still pre-season of course, and when the season rolled around, Júlio
César was still number #1 in Vitória’s team, but fate soon paved the way for Ederson to
make his way into the Benfica team. It was late in the game, Benfica was winning easily,
they’d take on Sporting the following week and as Júlio César rushed to collect a loose
ball, he tears a muscle. The Brazilian veteran finished the game against União, but was
ruled unfit to start the game against Sporting. The most important game of the season,
the two title contenders going head-to- head with just weeks left in the season, and
Benfica’s #1 was injured. I remember how nervous I was, having to pin the season’s
hopes on a young goalkeeper making his first start for Benfica against their fierce
Do you remember how I said Cássio was a big mentor for Ederson? So was Júlio
César apparently, and the experienced goalkeeper gave Ederson a pregame pep talk,
and early on, you could see that his words had an effect on Ederson. He was showing
his confidence, and after a few great saves, you just had the feeling he would not be
beaten. He made a lot of huge saves, but none better than a stop he had on Islam
Slimani. Yes, Ederson hadn’t played a game for Benfica that season, but he stepped up
and delivered a man of the match performance. Ederson continued to start, playing key
games in the Champions League against Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, and
continued to be the best goalkeeper in Portugal for the next season, ahead of European
Champion Rui Patrício and Real Madrid legend Iker Casillas.
So, ever since that serendipitous Sporting game, Ederson would start every
important game for Benfica, and he did not relinquish his starting spot until leaving for
Manchester City this summer.
From what I said, it may sound like Ederson was a finished project when he
joined Benfica, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. At the time, Ederson was a
solid goalkeeper, but in the 2016/17 season, he took it to another level, becoming one of
the best goalkeepers in Europe.
His ability to swat the ball away with perfect timing, his passing, his calm attitude,
and his shot-stopping all became regular facets in his game as he led Benfica to their
historic Tetra. Ederson had become a sweeper keeper, reading the game like the best,
coming out to almost the middle of Benfica’s midfield to redistribute possession. He isn’t
scared of being hit, beaten or losing the ball. There’s a reason why Ederson is the most
expensive goalkeeper in football, there’s a reason he will be Brazil’s #1 for years to
come, and there’s a reason why he can improve any team: his unrivaled confidence
Earlier in this transfer window, Ederson joined Manchester City for a whopping
40 million Euros. Of course, the pundits said the same old, same old: “He’s a goalkeeper
from the Portuguese League! He doesn’t even start for Brazil! Goalkeepers aren’t worth
big fees.” The fee may sound ridiculous, but if you analyze it, Ederson is 23 and
goalkeepers can often keep performing until their late 30’s. If anything, signing a world
class goalkeeper for 10+ seasons for 40M is a measly bargain.
Ederson will give City what they were missing with Claudio Bravo. He can play out
from the back, even when opposing teams play a high press. He’s a great shot stopper,
a far contrast from Bravo’s shaky handling last season. Furthermore, his world-class
attitude will massively help a City team that has gone more than three years without winning the title. You know those players that just ooze confidence? Ederson is one of
them, and that will be contagious to the whole team, so don’t be surprised if City ends up
with the best defensive record in the league.
Ederson is a upcoming star and Manchester City signed him at just the right time,
right after his breakout season and right before the prime of his career. A few years from
now, we’ll be talking about a trophy-studded City team, and we’ll be discussing how
much Ederson changed the landscape of goalkeepers in England. The Premier League
is full of world class goalkeepers like David De Gea and Thibaut Courtois, but no one is
really like Ederson. He’s unique, and City fans will know why in a year.
By: Peter Pereira/@Peter1678