When Liverpool spent £66.8m to sign Alisson from Roma in 2018, people were blown away by the size of the fee.
It was a world record for a goalkeeper and even though many understood the club’s need for a new goalkeeper, spending this kind of money on one was questioned. It speaks volumes about Alisson’s quality that just two years later, no one would dispute the fee and, in fact, many would consider it a good bit of business by the Reds.
Alisson has been nothing less than sensational for Liverpool, a colossal figure at the back who dominates opponents through his intimidating presence and fantastic reflexes. He rarely does the spectacular, instead preferring to make the mundane so unerringly effective that in 2019/20 he kept the third-most clean sheets in the Premier League despite missing nine games of the season.
And it is that level of excellence that Liverpool are in desperate need of now.
- Age: 28
- Saves made at Liverpool: 140
- Clean sheets at Liverpool: 35
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With defensive injuries piling up like the trophies Jurgen Klopp’s side have won, the Liverpool defence is coming under greater scrutiny than ever. Virgil van Dijk is out, Fabinho is out, Joel Matip is out. Joe Gomez and Rhys Williams appear to be the de facto centre-back pairing for now and both are young defenders who need guidance.
It will be down to Alisson to provide that guidance.
It feels absurd to ask more of a goalkeeper who kept 13 clean sheets in 29 games in 2019/20. And 21 clean sheets in 38 games in 2018/19 followed by making a massive eight saves and a clean sheet in the 2019 Champions League final.
He followed that up by being the defensive rock upon which Brazil’s Copa America triumph was built (all in all Alisson kept nine straight clean sheets to end 2018/19 and only conceded one goal in the entire Copa America).
So it does feel strange to demand more from Alisson, but that is the situation Liverpool find themselves in. If they are to keep up the pace in the Premier League title race, they will need to have a solid defence. And given the players that are currently out if that is to happen they will need Alisson Becker to be at his organisational best.
After all, that’s what doesn’t show up on the stat sheet: Alisson’s ability to bring tranquility to his team. When he’s there, defenders play better. They can be more aggressive in the tackle knowing that if the ball gets behind them, Alisson will either sweep it up or make a stop 1-vs-1. Even with all the injury woes taken into account, Alisson helped Liverpool keep a clean sheet against Midtjylland in their most recent outing.
Alisson can save, he can sweep, he can even pass. His is a dominant presence and the Reds will need every inch of his 6’3 frame if they are to make it through their current injury crisis.