This is taken from the GFFN 100, our leading 150-page FREE publication ranking the best 100 players in France, see the full list and read every profile right here.
2022 was always going to be a defining one for Gianluigi Donnarumma’s career. Amidst swirling rumours about a potential return to Italy, the ex-Milan stopper began the year as second-fiddle to Keylor Navas under Mauricio Pochettino at PSG as the pressure on Pochettino built constantly due to European failures.
Donnarumma did start both of PSG’s games against Real Madrid in the round of 16 in the Champions League last season, an early sign of trust in him, as the 23-year-old wasn’t starting every Ligue 1 game as he shared the number one role with Navas.
Navas, who could yet move to Napoli, is now filling the role of second-choice, with Donnarumma the regular for club and country. Having conceded only nine goals so far in the campaign, Donnarumma has outperformed on his post-shot expected goals tally by 1.9, implying that he should have let in around 11 goals on average. His performances have again established that he is a fairly impressive shot-stopper, something which has always been the case for the 23-year-old.
Having been tasked with keeping his passing short, Donnarumma has shown that he is also proficient with the ball at his feet, something which hasn’t always been true for him but, under new PSG coach Christophe Galtier, there have been signs of improvement in his ability to play out from the back and act as a passing option when PSG build.
Having said that, Donnarumma’s best performance in 2022 came in Italy’s clash with Hungary as the goalkeeper was vital in Gli Azzurri’s 2-0 win. The PSG man was hailed by many for his showing, as he made three saves in a row in one phase of play and Hungary boss Marco Rossi lauded Donnarumma as the “best in the world” for his acrobatics.
2022 has been a reminder of what Donnarumma truly is capable of and the year has shown that he is now well settled in at a side that will challenge for the Champions League. The best is yet to come.
Kaustubh Pandey | GFFN