Record-breaking deals for Kepa Arrizabalaga and Alisson highlight how important goalkeepers have become, says Tom Heaton, even if their asking prices are "astronomical".
The Reds splashed out £65 million ($85m) on a Brazil international, before that fee was then topped by the Blues as they secured a Spanish shot-stopper for £71m ($93m).
Few could have predicted that the market would inflate so quickly, but teams are now prepared to pay the going rate for an important part of the puzzle.
Burnley keeper Heaton, speaking at Precision’s Goalkeeping event for his bespoke glove range, told Goal when asked if he saw big-money deals coming: “No, to be honest! I think that was probably a stretch to have pre-empted that.
“I think it’s a sign of the importance teams putting on the goalkeeper and how they play and how much of an important piece of the puzzle they are. There have been some big-money goalkeepers recently. It’s probably a sign of the times and the importance of it, but it has certainly got to astronomical levels.”
Pressed on whether asking prices are the result of a Neymar-influenced market or the value of a proven No.1, Heaton added: “A bit of both. There are probably two factors in it.
“The market has obviously got bigger and perhaps also there is an element of people seeing and understanding how they want to play and how important the goalkeeper is in that. It’s a general effect of the market getting inflated and more so the realisation of how important a goalkeeper is.”
There has been a clear move towards ball-playing goalkeepers over recent years, with the likes of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool looking for their last line of defence to be as comfortable with their feet as they are with their hands.
“The last few years, I think it’s been revolutionised to a degree – you look at the likes of Ederson, Kepa at Chelsea, Alisson at Liverpool,” said Heaton.
“These possession-based teams, they are really raising the bar in terms of playing with their feet. It’s certainly moving in that direction. I still think the importance of keeping the ball out of the net is the priority, but that’s certainly a close second now.
“It’s going towards how teams want to play and how much emphasis they want to put on it. I think you’ll probably see a move towards teams picking goalkeepers based on that style. I always think that if you’ve got one team that is possession-based then the other has got to be an out-of-possession team, that’s the way they are going to have to play, so it’s going to need two different styles of goalkeepers in a game like that.
“There is a possibility that it has been overplayed to a certain extent but as things move forward, the biggest thing is still keeping the ball out of the back of the net. Everything else is secondary.”
Heaton, as an England hopeful and seasoned Premier League performer, admits that a new breed of goalkeepers are forcing others to add more strings to their respective bows.
Quizzed on whether being good on the ball is something he has worked on over the course of his career, the 32-year-old said: “It is. It is certainly something that the bar has been raised in terms of standard.
“You look at some goalkeepers now and they could almost play outfield in their respective teams. They are certainly setting the standard and have raised the bar in the last few years. Everyone is probably playing catch up and I would put myself in that bracket. It’s something I enjoy doing, I enjoy improving when it’s a possibility.”
Precision’s Infinite Heat Gloves, designed specifically by Tom are available now at http://www.precisiontraining.uk.com/goalkeeping.