Donnarumma v Navas: Are PSG really getting a goalkeeper upgrade?

By Sports Desk July 14, 2021

It's a fact that 'free' transfers in football are, all things considered, quite expensive. Wages, signing fees, agent demands and general costs make any such deal have a sizeable imprint on a club's balance sheet.

Still, Paris Saint-Germain's signing of Gianluigi Donnarumma for a big fat zero in transfer fees sounds like a sensational piece of business – particularly after his Euro 2020 heroics.

The Italy goalkeeper has left Milan, his boyhood club, to join Mauricio Pochettino's side where he hopes to be able to challenge for the biggest club trophies, most obviously the Champions League.

Certainly, Donnarumma is right to aspire to the top prizes. This is a player who made 200 appearances for the Rossoneri by the age of just 21 years and 146 days, who was valued at €170million by agent Mino Raiola when he was just 16.

PSG have secured a bargain, for sure – but is it one they really needed? Incumbent number one Keylor Navas certainly did not seem to think so when he posted to Instagram "gift your absence to those who do not value your presence" shortly after the Donnarumma rumours first emerged.

As Opta data shows, Navas, a four-time Champions League winner, may well have a point.

 

First, it's important to stress once again that Donnarumma is an excellent signing. PSG are recruiting a highly experienced yet young goalkeeper without paying a transfer fee; a goalkeeper whose market value is only likely to increase over the coming decade – indeed, it has in the past week alone – should Les Parisiens decide to cash in at any point.

However, it's also true that, if the short-term goal is simply to improve the first XI with a view to winning the Champions League, replacing Navas with Donnarumma may not be a fool-proof move.

In 2020-21, Donnarumma kept 14 clean sheets in 37 matches in all competitions. Navas also managed 14 shut-outs, having played in eight fewer games. The Costa Rican conceded only 18 goals in those matches, whereas Donnarumma let in 38.

Donnarumma produced more saves (92) than Navas (74), but the older man's save percentage was far higher: 80.43 per cent, compared to 70.08. In fact, Navas boasted the highest save percentage of any keeper in Europe's top-five leagues last term who started at least 10 matches, a fraction above Atletico Madrid's Jan Oblak (80 per cent). Donnarumma came 25th in those rankings.

Navas' distribution was better, too: his passing accuracy (85.65) was better than that of Donnarumma (77.04), with only three regular keepers in Europe's top-five leagues posting better numbers. Donnarumma did at least surpass Navas for keeper sweepings, which are defined as any time a keeper anticipates danger and rushes off their line to try either to cut out an attacking pass (in a race with the opposition player) or to close down an opposition player: he completed nine of nine such 'sweepings', with Navas on five out of five.

 

Going further and looking at expected goals on target – a way of building on expected goals that takes into account the quality of the attempt on goal – we can highlight how well these keepers have done to keep high-quality shots on target from going in. This is done by subtracting goals conceded (excluding own goals) from xGOT conceded, giving us 'goals prevented'. And it's another big tick for Navas.

In Ligue 1 last term, if we exclude penalties and own goals, Navas let in 17 goals from an xGOT conceded total of 24.1, giving him a figure of 7.1 goals prevented. In other words, he would reasonably have been expected to concede roughly seven more goals based on the quality of shots on target he faced. Meanwhile, Donnarumma conceded 35 from an xGOT of 34.1, giving him a goals prevented figure of -0.9 – not terrible, but nothing to shout about.

 

Last season's figures were not isolated, either. If you look back over Donnarumma's 215 club appearances since his Milan debut on October 25, 2015, Navas' consistency as a shot-stopper is superior.

Donnarumma conceded 227 goals for Milan (excluding own goals) in all competitions from an xGOT figure of 244.4, giving him a goals prevented tally of 17.4. That's a strong return – better, for instance, than Manchester United's David de Gea (16.6) and Liverpool's Alisson (16.1) – but, again, it's lower than that of Navas (20.3).

For balance, both of them are a long way behind the top performer in this metric over that time frame. That man, unsurprisingly, is Jan Oblak of Atletico Madrid, with a quite remarkable goals prevented figure of 44.5.

 

It's as yet unclear what Navas' plans will be now that Donnarumma has moved to Parc des Princes, but a keeper with his pedigree and medal collection is unlikely to settle for a back-up role. And nor should he: Donnarumma might be PSG's future, but Navas does not deserve to be dispensed with in the present.

Related items

  • Unai Emery extends Aston Villa contract Unai Emery extends Aston Villa contract

    Aston Villa manager Unai Emery has committed to the club until at least 2027 after his contract was extended.

    The Spaniard’s existing deal still had two years to run but he has agreed terms for an additional 12 months, the PA news agency understands.

    Villa are also keen to sit down with the 52-year-old in the summer and discuss a new longer-term contract.

    Emery has done an impressive job at Villa Park, guiding them from a relegation fight when taking over from Steven Gerrard in November 2022 to the brink of Champions League qualification this season.

    They are also in the semi-final of the Europa Conference League, where they play Olympiacos, and are the favourites to win the tournament which would represent a first European trophy since 1982.

    Due to his impressive work at Villa Park, he was recently linked with the vacant Bayern Munich managerial position, while a number of other top European clubs will be looking for managers this summer and might have targeted the former Sevilla, Arsenal and Paris St Germain boss.

    After Emery guided them to a seventh-placed finish last season, Villa have kicked on this term and are in pole position to finish fourth and qualify for the Champions League for the first time.

    They are sixth points ahead of fifth-placed Tottenham, who have two games in hand, and are managing their tough Thursday-Sunday schedule well.

    Villa play Chelsea on Saturday night, where they could move nine points clear of Spurs, who play Arsenal on Sunday.

  • Erik Ten Hag says reaction to Manchester United’s FA Cup win was ’embarrassing’ Erik Ten Hag says reaction to Manchester United’s FA Cup win was ’embarrassing’

    Erik Ten Hag has branded the reaction to Manchester United’s FA Cup semi-final victory over Coventry “embarrassing” and “a disgrace”.

    Having let slip a 3-0 lead at Wembley with 20 minutes to go and then won on penalties after the Championship side had an extra-time goal disallowed for a marginal offside, United were heavily criticised by pundits and fans alike despite making it back-to-back finals.

    Ten Hag met a question about whether he understood the response at a press conference ahead of Wednesday’s clash against Sheffield United with a feisty response, saying: “No, absolutely not.

    “The question: ‘Is it embarrassing?’ No, the reaction from you was embarrassing. It is the comments. Top football is about results, we made it to a final and we deserved it not only by this game but also the other games.

    “We lost control for 20 minutes, we also had bad luck, 3-2, 3-3. We were very lucky in the end, clear. Penalties was very good and we made it to the final, it is a huge achievement. Twice in two years is magnificent.

    “For me as a manager, four cup finals in four years. The comments are a disgrace.”

    Antony has come in for particular criticism after he cupped his ear with his hand in a mocking gesture towards the Coventry players when Rasmus Hojlund netted the winning penalty.

    Ten Hag accepted Antony was wrong but claimed he was provoked, saying: “That’s why, this was a reaction of that, you haven’t seen the provocation, only the reaction. But he should not do it.

    “I have seen Harry Maguire straight after and others, we should acknowledge the performance of Coventry to come into that…and the comeback. Also see we are 70 minutes totally dominating the game by far and creating many chances.

    “At 3-0 it must have been the game is closed but the return from their side was very good.”

    The collapse added further intensity to the spotlight on Ten Hag’s position, and on Friday United announced that Jason Wilcox had left Southampton with immediate effect to become their new technical director.

    Ten Hag said he was looking forward to working very closely with the former winger, adding: “We have to form a partnership, it’s very important. We are a little behind in the process so we have to catch up, so we will go and speed up the process.

    “I met him yesterday for the first time, we had some talks. This week we will not have so much time but from Monday on we will go forward.

    “Of course I know his profile, I know his methods in youth, a lot of experience there and then one year at Southampton. I know his background so I am looking forward to our partnership.”

    United’s injury crisis continued at Wembley, with Alejandro Garnacho, Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay and Bruno Fernandes all picking up problems.

    McTominay and Rashford are both doubtful for Wednesday but Ten Hag expects Garnacho and Fernandes to be able to play.

  • PGMOL to allow Nottingham Forest to hear VAR audio of rejected penalty claims PGMOL to allow Nottingham Forest to hear VAR audio of rejected penalty claims

    Nottingham Forest will be given the opportunity to privately hear the VAR audio connected to three penalty claims in their match against Everton last Sunday.

    Forest called on Monday for the audio between Stuart Attwell and on-field official Anthony Taylor to be released publicly.

    Sources close to referees body Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) insist it has nothing to hide and will give the club the opportunity to hear the audio in private, as it would any other club making a similar request.

    The PA news agency understands no decision has yet been taken on whether this audio would also feature in the next edition of ‘Match Officials Mic’d Up’, which will air next Tuesday evening.

    The audio related to a wrongly disallowed Luis Diaz goal for Liverpool at Tottenham earlier this season was released publicly, but in that instance there had been a serious communication error so the matter was treated differently.

    Forest have been contacted by PA regarding the offer to release the audio.

    The club have risked Football Association and Premier League sanction over their extraordinary response to the three rejected penalty appeals.

    The club said in a statement on Sunday they had “warned” PGMOL that VAR Stuart Attwell “was a Luton fan” but that PGMOL did not change the appointment.

    The Premier League said it was “extremely disappointed” by the statement, adding it was “never appropriate to improperly question the integrity of match officials”.

    The league said it was investigating the matter in relation to the league’s rules, with regulations B.15 and B.16 governing the requirement on clubs and their officials to behave with utmost good faith.

    Forest went on to release a further statement on Monday evening calling for the rules around referees’ allegiances to be updated to account for “contextual rivalries in the league table”.

    Referees do already declare allegiances and will not be assigned that team’s matches, or certain other fixtures such as those involving direct local rivals of that club. For instance, Michael Oliver has spoken in the past about he cannot referee Newcastle games because he is a fan.

    Other factors that determine appointments include which teams an official’s immediate family members support, as well as performance and the number of times they have officiated a particular team’s matches.

    PGMOL takes all of that into account and endeavours to make the best appointments possible when allocating six officials to each Premier League fixture from a pool of 70 to 75, while also fulfilling Championship refereeing appointments.

    Ultimately, it has confidence in the impartiality and professionalism of its officials.

    No club is believed to have ever questioned the process in the manner Forest have since the birth of the Premier League 32 years ago, and nor have the club raised any concerns in relation to the previous occasions when Attwell has been the VAR at their matches this season.

    English officials are clearly well thought of by UEFA, with eight included in the list for Euro 2024 this summer.

    Taylor will lead one of two English referee teams at Euro 2024, with Oliver leading the other. Attwell and David Coote have been named as VARs.

    Three Forest staff – manager Nuno Espirito Santo, full-back Neco Williams and referee analyst Mark Clattenburg – have been asked by the FA for observations on the comments they made about the officiating at Goodison Park.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.