La Liga has been home to some of the greatest goalkeepers of all-time. Throughout the history of La Liga fixtures, elite shot stoppers have flourished, winning titles and breaking records.
Aside from the jaw-dropping saves and blunders, evaluating goalkeepers can be a challenge.
For much of football history, statistics have been unable to give much of an insight into a goalkeeper’s ability. Comparing the value of a goalkeeper on a great team with one on a struggling side is tricky, too.
Goalkeepers are worth more than their clean sheets or saves made. The best can command the box and organise a defence. Some can act as a sweeper; others feel more comfortable in the confines of the penalty area.
Goalkeeping is barely comparable to other roles in football. Analysis of the position is often flawed as a result. It’s can provoke debate and disagreement, but these 10 are widely accepted as some of the best goalkeepers in La Liga history.
Saint Iker has the second-most appearances in the history of Real Madrid, he’s the all-time leader in Champions League clean sheets, and he won everything there is to win in club and international football.
Iker Casillas combined razor-sharp reflexes for highlight saves with smart positioning and solid footwork. Small for a goalkeeper at 6’0, he wasn’t as intimidating a figure as some others, but he more than made up for it with his supreme coordination and nous.
Five times named to the FIFPro World XI, Casillas was one of the best in the world for over a decade.
Although sometimes seen as the weak link in the dominant Barcelona sides of the 2000s and early-2010s, Victor Valdes has to be considered among the greatest La Liga goalkeepers.
Sure, he made some high-profile errors. Sure, many of his peers were a more calming presence.
Most of his contemporaries couldn’t have slotted into the role he played for Barcelona, though. Valdes was integral to the success of those teams as a passer and sweeper, an extra outfield player in possession and a long-ball deterrent in defence.
He wasn’t perfect, but with five Zamora trophies, six La Liga crowns and three Champions Leagues to his name, there was no doubt over Valdes’ place on this list.
Occasionally linked with a move to the Premier League in the latest sports news, Jan Oblak has established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
Still only 28 years old, Oblak already shares the record for the most Zamora Trophy wins with five. The list of individual accolades continues to grow for the Slovenian, who Atletico signed for just €16 million in 2014.
With potentially another decade left as an elite performer, Oblak is already among the greatest La Liga ‘keepers, and could be considered the best ever by the time he hangs up his gloves.
The La Liga record holder in clean sheets and appearances, Andoni Zubizarreta was a lock to feature in this article.
Zubizarreta was a model of consistency throughout a nearly two-decade-long La Liga career. Across stints with Athletic Bilbao, Barcelona and Valencia, he was always available, and you can count his mistakes on one hand.
While those records are likely to stand for years to come, securing his place in La Liga history, Zubizarreta is best remembered for his role in Johan Cruyff’s all-conquering Barcelona side, winning four straight league titles and the 1991-92 European Cup.
Miguel Ángel González Suárez
Spending almost two decades with Real Madrid, Miguel Ángel González Suárez amassed a catalogue of team and individual honours.
He wasn’t always first choice at the Bernabeu, but González Suárez amassed over 240 appearances for Los Blancos, winning six league titles in the process.
His best year came in 1975-76. González Suárez won the Ricardo Zamora Trophy for the best goals conceded per game ratio in Spanish football and also landed the Don Balon Award as the best Spanish player.
Much of Ricardo Zamora’s club career came before the founding of La Liga, but we’ll let him off for that here. With the best goalkeeper in La Liga award named after him, Zamora simply had to be on this list.
Born in Barcelona, Zamora had two stints with Espanyol either side of a three-year spell with Barca. He joined Real Madrid in 1930, playing for Los Blancos until 1936.
It was a career like no other, and not just because of the league titles and Best Goalkeeper award at the 1934 World Cup. Zamora was a controversial figure politically, which contributed to him being taken as a prisoner in the Spanish Civil War in 1936.
With cat-like reflexes and iconic blonde hair, Santiago Canizares was one of the most recognisable and entertaining goalkeepers in the world in the 1990s and early-2000s.
He tied for the Ricardo Zamora trophy as a La Liga rookie at Celta Vigo, ultimately earning a move to Real Madrid. It was the 1998 transfer to Valencia which cemented Canizares as an all-time great La Liga ‘keeper, however.
Making over 300 appearances for the club, Canizares was a rock as Valencia enjoyed their best period in decades, winning two league titles in three years and lifting the 2003-04 UEFA Cup.
Possessing the brilliant nickname of ‘The Octopus’, Luis Arconada is a true legend of Spanish football.
He was a one-club man with Real Sociedad, starring as the team won two league titles in the 1980s and winning three straight Ricardo Zamora trophies.
Cited as an inspiration to various Spanish goalkeepers since – including Iker Casillas – Arconada was regarded as a leader and spectacular shot-stopper with sharp reflexes and a knack for pulling off improbable saves with his feet.
Tied with Victor Valdes and Jan Oblak with five Ricardo Zamora trophies, Antoni Ramallets joined Barcelona from Mallorca in 1946, initially expecting to be a backup.
Soon taking over as first choice, though, Ramallets was a stalwart of one of Barcelona’s greatest ever sides alongside Sándor Kocsis and Luis Suárez. He led by example as captain and made almost 300 league appearances for Barca before retiring in 1962.
Ramallets has a solid claim as Barcelona’s greatest ever goalkeeper – he was pivotal in six La Liga wins as both a goalkeeper and leader.
Thibaut Courtois is only the second player in La Liga history to win league titles with Atletico and Real Madrid. Courtois is also the only goalkeeper to pip Jan Oblak to the Ricardo Zamora Trophy since the Slovenian since 2015-16.
The Belgian is as well-rounded a goalkeeper as a manager can hope for. His 6’7 frame fills the goal, and he’s got the reflexes to pull off low saves.
He can even operate as a sweeper at times and has a commanding presence when the ball is in the air, often calmly claiming set pieces.