This season will see Keylor Navas pass his Ligue 1 Uber Eats Goalkeeper of the Year award on to either Walter Benitez, Pau Lopez, Matz Sels, Alban Lafont or club-mate Gianluigi Donnarumma. Who is the most deserving candidate? Check out our run-down right here…
The UNFP Trophies are a number of awards given annually by the National Union of Professional Football Players to players playing in France's Ligue 1 and Ligue 2, as well as to managers and referees, the most prestigious one being the Player of the Year.
Ligue 1 Uber Eats Goalkeeper of the Year
Olympique Lyonnais have won the title of best goalkeeper are record seven times. Steve Mandanda holds the individual record with five gongs, while AS Monaco and LOSC are tied for the record of Coach of the Year (5 times). Laurent Blanc and current Nice coach Christophe Galtier (nominated this year) have each won the award three times.
The team that has won the title of best player most often is Paris Saint-Germain (10 times). Individually, Zlatan Ibrahimović has won this award three times, which is a record. AS Monaco are the club with the most Young Player of the Year trophies (5). Individually, only Eden Hazard (2) and Kylian Mbappé (3) have won it more than once.
Argentine 'keeper Walter Benitez is a veritable institution at OGC Nice. The 1.93m shot stopper, who arrived at the club in 2016, leads Ligue 1 Uber Eats for clean sheets (14 at a rate of 42.4%) and thus it's little surprise that Les Aiglons boast the best defensive record in the league, with just 29 goals conceded. Benitez notably had a blinder in the 3-0 win over Brest in Round 20, making no fewer than nine saves. He tops the league for save percentage, with 99 saves at 80.5%.
Italy 'keeper Donnarumma arrived at Paris Saint-Germain with plenty of fanfare, having just won the Yashin Trophy for Goalkeeper of the Year and being named Player of the Tournament at a Euro 2020 that saw him lift the title alongside club-mate Marco Verratti, and even though he shares goal-keeping duties with reigning Goalkeeper of the Year Keylor Navas, he has made a great impression in his first season in France. With the 1.96 Italian in goal, Paris have lost just twice this season, and his unique mix of youth and experience - not to mention impressive shot-stopping powers - should see him at the top of the game for years to come.
Like Donnarumma, Nantes captain Alban Lafont started his career as a prodigy - he made his Ligue 1 Uber Eats debut with Toulouse as a 16-year-old in 2015 - and has seen his success continue through to the current campaign, in which a tough-defending Nantes side have punched above their weight. With eight clean sheets (at a rate of 22.9%), he helped his side to big wins over Brest (R7), Lens (R18), PSG (R25) and Montpellier (R27) to name just a few, and saved a league-high three penalties! With a Coupe de France win to cap a stellar season and bring European football to the Stade de la Beaujoire, Lafont's future looks bright…
No mean feat to step into the shoes of legendary 'keeper Steve Mandanda at Olympique de Marseille, but Pau Lopez has done just that this season, playing his way into starter status under Jorge Sampaoli with a string of superb performances. With ten clean sheets (at a rate of 34.5%) - including at home to PSG in Round 11's Classique - the Spaniard has infused Marseille's excellent defence - which includes Young Player of the Year nominee William Saliba - with the confidence to make a run at second place in Ligue 1 Uber Eats and the direct Champions League qualification that goes with it. Quite a debut season from the 27-year-old!
That Julien Stéphan's Strasbourg side are fighting it out for a European place says plenty about the charismatic young coach but also speaks volumes about the quality of 'keeper Matz Sels, who has kept 12 clean sheets (at a rate of 34.3%) and made 79 saves. The Belgium glovesman (two caps) has pulled out eight of those clean sheets in a second half of the season that has seen Le Racing lose just twice on their way to the upper reaches of the Ligue 1 Uber Eats standings. Sels has missed just one Ligue 1 Uber Eats match this season and is Stéphan's most-used player - the rock-solid foundation on which the side's success has been built.