Liverpool are on the verge of signing Alisson Becker from Roma in a deal worth £67m, but what is it that has persuaded Jurgen Klopp to make the Brazilian the world’s most expensive goalkeeper?
Alisson is currently in Liverpool to undergo his medical, the final hurdle in the transfer, having travelled to England on a private jet on Wednesday evening after already agreeing a five-year deal at Anfield.
The Liverpool manager will now be hoping the 25-year-old is the answer to the club’s search for an established No 1 after using both Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius in goal last season.
Karius was eventually made the club’s first choice in January. However, after two calamitous errors helped Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 in May’s Champions League final, the German’s future on Merseyside was called into question by many experts, including Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness.
0:27 Alisson boarded a private jet from Rome to England to undergo a medical with Liverpool
“I think as much as Jurgen would have wanted to be loyal and do right by the goalkeeper, he’s got to go out and get another one,” said the former Liverpool captain.
“That’s simply because if Karius was to make the same mistake, or a mistake in a big game, it’d be down to the manager not correcting that situation. It’s obvious to everyone – look at what happened in the Champions League final.”
Highest fees for keepers
|Alisson||£67m||Roma to Liverpool (2018)|
|Ederson||£34.7m||Benfica to Man City (2017)|
|Gianluigi Buffon||£32.6m||Parma to Juventus (2001)|
|Jordan Pickford||£30m||Sunderland to Everton (2017)|
Klopp has now reacted though and looks set to break the bank in order to sign the coveted Brazil international, who was also reportedly interesting the likes of Real and Chelsea. But is the ‘keeper the solution to Liverpool’s long-running search for a world-class shot stopper?
With the help of Sky Italy, we look at why the player is so highly rated, how he compares to his rivals, and whether he would be a success in the Premier League…
What was Alisson’s rise to the top?
The Brazilian started out at Internacional in 2013, where he fought off competition from the experienced Dida to become the club’s No 1, before joining Roma three years later for €7.5m.
Alisson did not feature at all in Serie A in his debut campaign at the Stadio Olimpico, instead acting as understudy to Wojciech Szczesny, while appearing in Roma’s Coppa Italia, Europa League and Champions League qualifiers.
However, Szczesny’s departure from Roma last summer, coupled with Eusebio Di Francesco replacing Luciano Spalletti as the club’s head coach, saw Alisson promoted to first choice this season.
“If I hadn’t had the guarantee of playing, I would have asked to leave Roma,” Alisson revealed in September.
How was his form last season?
“When Roma sold Szczesny to Juventus (the Poland international returned to Arsenal from a loan spell at Roma before joining Juve permanently), the club already knew Alisson was a better goalkeeper,” says Sky Italy’s Augusto De Bartolo. “Last season, he was one of the best ‘keepers in Serie A, if not the best now that Gianluigi Buffon is at the end of his career.
“If Roma had the second-best defence in the league last season, then that was due to Alisson’s abilities. Statistically speaking, he had the best save percentage (79.26 per cent) and was the ‘keeper that not only stopped the most number of shots faced, but also the one that saved the most dangerous shots in the top flight.”
What are his main strengths?
“The Brazilian has many skills that are not common in every ‘keeper – his major strength is the ability to be in the right position in order to cover a large portion of the goal,” says De Bartolo. “If you look at his movements in a game, especially when forwards are bearing down on goal, he always adjusts his position according to the movement of the ball. And that allows him to cover a great section of the goal.
Highest saves rates in Europe’s top 5 leagues last season
|Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)||83%|
|David de Gea (Man Utd)||80%|
|Ron-Robert Zieler (Stuttgart)||77%|
|Nick Pope (Burnley)||77%|
“Another of his big strengths is distribution and in that regard he is considered to be as good as his compatriot and Man City No 1 Ederson, especially when it comes to long-range passing.
“And finally, Alisson excels when it comes to anticipation, as was noted by former Brazil boss Carlos Dunga. The ‘keeper thinks like a striker and tries to anticipate if the opposition forward will dribble or shoot, and how he will shoot: close to the ground, in the air, with power, and in what direction.”
How about his weaknesses and could they be exploited in England?
“Actually, it is difficult to find any weaknesses in Alisson, he is the complete goalkeeper,” De Bartolo adds. “The charismatic Brazilian is also a very modern ‘keeper and while 6ft 3in is not overly tall for someone in his position, and maybe a slight issue in England with crosses, his ability to anticipate should compensate for that.”
But statistically, how does he compare to his rivals?
Alisson was outstanding for Roma in Serie A last season, conceding just 28 goals in 37 matches – including 17 clean sheets – numbers far superior, on average, to Karius’.
Goalkeeping stats in the league in 2017/18
|Errors leading to goals||0||0|
As noted above, the 25-year-old’s overall save percentage is just under 80 per cent – compared to Karius’ 68.89 per cent – the third-best across Europe’s top five leagues last season.
Perhaps most crucially of all, though, Alisson did not made a single error leading to a goal in the Italian top flight in the previous campaign.
Who is Brazil’s No 1?
Alisson made his international debut in a World Cup Qualifier against Venezuela in 2015 and has since won 31 caps for the five-time world champions.
Despite Dunga – who handed him his first cap – being replaced as Brazil boss by Tite in June 2016 and Alisson warming the bench in his debut campaign at Roma, the player has remained his country’s first choice.
And even though Ederson’s form was outstanding in his first season at Manchester City, Tite kept faith with Alisson at this summer’s World Cup in Russia.
What they said?
“He was a really important goalkeeper for us and his saves rescued a lot of points and games last season,” Roma midfielder Diego Perotti told Sky Italy.
0:26 We take a look at Brazillian goalkeeper Alisson Becker's stats from his 2017/18 season with Serie A side Roma
“Admittedly, Alisson is a big loss for us, because he’s a great guy, was a strong part of the locker-room dynamic and we’re sorry to see him go, but life is like that.”