One of Liverpool’s biggest weaknesses this season, rearing its ugly head in the Champions League final, was the lack of quality between the sticks.
Under the lights at Kyiv, it became clear that current Liverpool number one Loris Karius is simply not good enough for a title-challenging team.
With Adam Bogdan and Simon Mignolet the only alternatives on the Liverpool books, Jurgen Klopp has targeted Roma’s shot-stopper Alisson Becker – valued at £76 million – as the ideal replacement.
At that value – more than double what Manchester City paid for Ederson Moraes at £32.5 million – it must be asked: is Alisson really worth the money?
While Alisson has risen to stardom this year, it wasn’t always this way for the now £76 million man.
Hailing from Brazil, the 6ft 3 ‘keeper spent much of his youth and senior career playing for Sport Club Internacional, understudy to his brother Muriel, who had been starting in goal for the side.
As a result, Alisson finished his first full season as a professional with six appearances to his name.
When Brazilian goalkeeping legend Dida arrived from Gremio in 2014, Alisson’s chances of cementing his place between the sticks only worsened. Yet, he was an undisputed starter the following campaign, amassing 57 appearances across all competitions.
Alisson’s big break came on February 4th, 2016, where the Brazilian signed a pre-contract agreement with Roma, agreeing a five-year deal worth £6.5 million.
The Brazilian -who only came into Roma’s starting XI this year following on-loan goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny’s move to Juventus -has been impressive, an important factor in Roma’s third-place finish.
One only has to think of Roma’s incredible 3-0 comeback to Spanish giants, Barcelona, after being thrashed 4-1 at the Nou Camp.
Whilst Barcelona only managed three shots on target, Alisson was crucial to the Romans’ comeback, coming out of his box regularly to snuff out danger and, in the last moments of the game, rushed out of his goal to deny Gerard Pique a crucial shot on target.
Although the day was ultimately won by Kostas Manolas, Daniele De Rossi and former Manchester City man Edin Dzeko, Roma fans will never forget the contribution from their big Brazilian in between the sticks.
How does Alisson stack up?
Quite incredibly, Alisson has kept 17 clean sheets in 37 appearances this season, six more than the iconic Gianluigi Buffon, who is tied on 11 clean sheets with the aforementioned Szczęsny, both of whom started for Juventus this season. Only former Liverpool goalkeeper and current Napoli man, Pepe Reina, has a better record (18).
According to other metrics, the Liverpool target stacks up favourably against Serie A’s best goalkeepers.
For example, the Roma number one made 2.71 saves per game. To put that into perspective, Buffon only made 2.06 saves per game while ex-Roma ‘keeper Szczęsny made a measly 1.25 saves per game.
Of course, it’s worth noting that the number of shots faced has as much to do with the defence as the goalkeeper, but it’s clear that, when it comes to shot-stopping, Alisson is up there with the best.
What really distinguishes him out as one of the world’s best, though, are his skill and confidence on the ball. The Brazilian is prepared to snuff out any danger by sprinting out of his box.
Part of a new era of goalkeepers made famous by Manuel Neuer, Alisson is arguably the world’s best sweeper-keeper at present.
However, despite his strengths and the £76 million valuation, the current Roma man is far from perfect.
At times, Roma fans have their heart in their mouths as the shot-stopper Cruyff-turns opposition attackers in his own box, something the pacey and quick-thinking Premier League forwards may take advantage of.
Brazilian-born Alisson, furthermore, does not speak English, but Portuguese. While the likes of Roberto Firmino and new Liverpool man Fabinho will help him settle into life on Merseyside, communicating with defenders may prove problematic. Whilst immediately troublesome, this is an issue, however, that can be resolved over time.
His fine distribution, brilliant shot-stopping ability and the fact he is only 25-years-old indicate just how much of an upgrade Alisson will prove to be.
Is Alisson worth his £76 million valuation? Will he be a success in the Premier League? Let us know in the comments below.
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