After just one successful year with SC Freiburg in 2014-15, Roman Burki made a move to Borussia Dortmund to replace their legendary goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller. The Swiss keeper has done okay throughout his time at the club, but was never a standout, lifesaving, shot-stopping heroic figure. Marwin Hitz came in at the start of Lucien Favre’s time in charge of the team to push Burki for a place, but he too struggled to fully convince in his limited appearances. So with Burki on the decline and the aging Hitz struggling to fully establish himself, Borussia Dortmund are now in search of a new goalkeeper.
Reports in the German media suggest that Dortmund have several keepers on their radar – including Koen Casteels, Gregor Kobel and Peter Gulacsi. So with Dortmund on the hunt, we analyze and compare the stats in an attempt to find the best possible solution for the club. At the end of this article we will also give a verdict on who Dortmund should sign based on these stats.
Firstly, assuming that age will also be a consideration for Dortmund’s decision, we first compare the keepers by age. Although older goalkeepers have more experience, younger goalkeepers have more time to develop into a world class player. An older keeper may be more of a short-term solution, while a younger goalkeeper may be more of a long-term solution. As a result there is not necessarily one best or worst answer in this category, and it would be up to Dortmund to decide what exactly they are looking for.
Marwin Hitz is ten years older than Gregor Kobel, and as a result the pair could be a great match for each other next season. While Koen Casteels is the second youngest on this list, he too is also reaching his 30s and won’t be seen as a long-term replacement. Roman Burki and Peter Gulacsi are both 30-years-old and also wouldn’t be long-term solutions for the club to fix their goalkeeping concerns.
Stats provided by FBRef.com.
SAVES PER GOAL CONCEDED
Saves per goal conceded compares the number of saves a goalkeeper has made against the number of goals they’ve conceded.
Koen Casteels sits at the top of the pack when it comes to saves per goals conceded by a significant margin. Gregor Kobel has also performed well in this category and would be well within the top ten keepers in the league, with Marwin Hitz toward the very bottom of not only this list, but the league as well.
Stats provided by FBRef.com.
Save percentage compares the number of saves, up against the number of goals conceded. It is a very similar metric to saves per goal conceded, but may provide different results based on the numbers.
Koen Casteels and Gregor Kobel are again at the top of the list, with Roman Burki falling to fourth, below Peter Gulacsi. Marwin Hitz again comes up last.
Stats provided by FBRef.com.
POST-SHOT EXPECTED GOALS +/-
Post-shot expected goals +/- compares the number of shots a keeper would be expected to save (based on what goalkeepers have saved in the past) with the number of goals they have either allowed or disallowed. Higher numbers indicate that a keeper is saving more shots than they should, while lower numbers suggest that a goalkeeper is conceding more than they should.
While Gregor Kobel’s performed well in most goalkeeping categories, he sits second to last on this list, conceding nearly 5 more goals than he should have this season. He does however sit above Roman Burki, but is well off the pace of Koen Casteels in first. While the Belgian keeper has saved more than he’s been expected to this season, Marwin Hitz has stayed the same and Peter Gulacsi’s been slightly under par.
CROSSES STOPPED %
Percentage of crosses stopped compares the number of crosses into a penalty area with the number that has been stopped by the keeper. While keepers are not expected to claim every cross and some crosses are far more claimable than others, it does indicate some degree of how well a keeper commands their penalty area.
Koen Casteels again sits at the top of this category, commanding his penalty area to great success this season. Marwin Hitz and Roman Burki are both above Dortmund’s other two main prospects at this time, with Kobel and Gulacsi tied for last.
Passing percentage compares the number of passes a player has attempted, with the number of passes they’ve completed. Higher numbers would suggest a player to be a good fit to play out from the back within Dortmund’s system and style of play.
While Koen Casteels sits last on this list, Wolfsburg also attempt the most long-passes of the players listed here, and it is more in his DNA to attempt these types of more dangerous passes, than to play out from the back. Peter Gulacsi tops the list with Leipzig’s purposeful possession approach. Meanwhile, despite playing for 10th place Stuttgart, Gregor Kobel has performed very well and has a very similar percentage to the two Dortmund keepers above him. Given that VFB Stuttgart and RB Leipzig both like to keep possession, play out from the back and rely on shorter passes, Kobel and Gulacsi would both be natural fits for the Black & Yellows.
By comparing Dortmund’s top goalkeeping prospects through use of these five stats, Koen Casteels clearly stands out above the pack. Although his passing percentage isn’t as remarkable as Kobel or Gulacsi, it is still a solid number that will likely go up in a Dortmund team that put more emphasis on possession. The Belgian is also 28-years-old and could have quite a few years left in his career at the highest level. Most remarkably, he tops the list in save percentage, saves per goal conceded, post-shot expected goals +/-, and percentage of crosses claimed. Gregor Kobel‘s numbers also suggest that he would be a step up from Burki and Hitz, and at 23-years-old will have plenty of time to develop into an even better keeper. If Dortmund wanted to, they could easily sign both players and let the chips fall where they may. Peter Gulacsi on the other hand would not be a particular step up from either Burki or Hitz, and at 30-years-old just wouldn’t make sense to be a long-term solution.
As a result, we suggest Dortmund sign Koen Casteels and Gregor Kobel and then let them duke it out for the number one position. If they succeed in signing both players, they will have two fantastic goalkeepers to rotate in and out of their squad, rather than just two decent goalkeepers who are probably past their prime. Borussia Dortmund’s recognition that they need a new goalkeeper is a positive step for the club, and provides hope for fans of the club that next season will bring more joy than this abysmal 2020-21 campaign.