MANCHESTER, England — In attempting to fix his goalkeeper woes, Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola has turned to a goal-scoring ‘sweeper keeper’ with a booming kick, the skills of an outfield player and a reputation for excelling in point-blank saves.
It has cost City 40 million euros ($45 million) for the privilege.
Ederson Moraes, a 23-year-old Brazilian, became the second most expensive goalkeeper of all time after Gianluigi Buffon when his move to City from Portuguese club Benfica was completed on Thursday.
Signing a player without a senior international appearance — and for such a huge fee — will be widely regarded as a gamble by City.
Guardiola will feel it is worth the risk.
He places more importance on his goalkeeper than many of his managerial counterparts, valuing their role as much more than simply keeping the ball out of the net. Guardiola sees a keeper as an integral part of a team’s build-up play, requiring good ball skills and distribution.
It’s for that reason that Guardiola sent long-time goalkeeper Joe Hart on loan to Torino last season and brought in Claudio Bravo from Barcelona. Bravo failed to convince in his first season, though, and was dropped.
A goalkeeper was high on Guardiola’s shopping list this offseason and Ederson appears to fit the bill.
“That revolution in the way goalkeepers get involved in the game was very important,” Ederson said after signing a six-year contract with City. “I already had that skill to play outside the box.”
The left-footed Ederson kept 18 clean sheets in 27 league games for Benfica last season, his one and only full season in the starting lineup. He played from 2012-15 at Portuguese club Rio Ave, which will receive part of the transfer fee paid by City, and was previously in Benfica’s youth teams, for whom he scored two goals in the 2010-11 season — one from a goal kick and another from a long kick following a back pass from a midfielder.
“He is one of the best young goalkeepers in Europe,” said Txiki Begiristain, City director of football. “He is young, has all the qualities you could want as a top-class goalkeeper and he’ll fit in really well to our squad.”
City said Ederson will officially join the club on July 1, and he is expected to be Guardiola’s first-choice goalkeeper ahead of Bravo. Hart is seemingly without a future at the English club, while Willy Caballero — who replaced Bravo for much of last season — is being released this month at the end of his contract.
Ederson has played for Brazil Under-23s but not the senior team, although he has been called up to the squad.
The signing of Ederson took City’s offseason spending to around the $100 million mark, with playmaker Bernardo Silva having already joined from Monaco for 50 million euros ($55 million). Ederson and Silva were briefly teammates at Benfica.
City is also in the market for full backs — Monaco left back Benjamin Mendy and Tottenham right back Kyle Walker have been linked with moves to Etihad Stadium — in what is set to be another summer of big spending.
City failed to win a trophy in Guardiola’s first season in charge.
“With Pep Guardiola, City are growing more and more,” Ederson said. “He is putting in place a young team for the future. Those were important factors in making my decision.”
Ederson becomes the fourth Brazilian at City, alongside Fernandinho, Fernando and Gabriel Jesus.
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80