It has been a long-running debate for a number of years, but now we have the statistics to prove it: FC Bayern München No.1 Manuel Neuer is the best goalkeeper in Bundesliga history.
Bayern's 1-0 win away to Hannover 96 on Matchday 17 represented the 29-year-old's 143rd shutout in 300 Bundesliga outings, taking his goals-conceded-per-game average down to 0.79 - a new Bundesliga best-mark for goalkeepers in the plus-100 appearances bracket.
Although 23 other goalkeepers have reached the 300-mark for Bundesliga appearances, few have managed to perform to such a consistently high standard. Against Hannover, for example, Neuer only had one save to make. Yet with the scoreline poised at 0-0 just eight minutes in, his cat-like reactions not only diverted Leon Andreasen's bullet header onto the crossbar; they crucially paved the way for Bayern's 15th Bundesliga win of 2015/16.
Even before he joined Bayern in summer 2011, Neuer already boasted an impressive per-game average of 0.99 goals against during his days at boyhood club FC Schalke 04. Since moving to the Bavarian capital, however, he has shipped far fewer (84 goals in 144 Bundesliga appearances). In practice, it takes almost two matches for opposition players to find a way past the two-time World's Best Goalkeeper (0.58 goals against per game and only eight in the first half of the 2015/16 Bundesliga campaign).
"It's just so much fun playing behind this defence," the 63-time Germany international said of his trusty back line that has served him just as well in non-Bundesliga fare. In the UEFA Champions League, he concedes, on average, 0.99 goals per game and only 0.55 in the DFB Cup.
Top of the pile
Picking the ball out of the net, on average, only once every 113 minutes, Neuer has also surpassed a string of legendary Bayern custodians since taking his Bundesliga bow on 19 August 2006. Oliver Kahn averaged 1.04 goals against per game, with Raimond Aumann and Jean-Marie Pfaff a shade less watertight on 1.06. Former Borussia Mönchengladbach star Marc-Andre ter Stegen is the first non-Bayern player on the list, having let 117 goals slip through his grasp in 108 Bundesliga appearances.
When the Great Wall of Manu does eventually hang up his gloves, he will almost certainly do so with a bounty of additional, and perhaps untouchable, best-marks to his name.
Jürgen Blöhs/ Christopher Mayer-Lodge