For as long as football has been around there is talk about the spine of the team, a strong spine can inspire a team to a league title and teams without spines are always found wanting because the players that form the backbone of the starting XI aren’t good enough. With Liverpool there hasn’t been an ethos around this particular sentiment and its mainly the reason for their downfall; neither Simon Mignolet or Loris Karius have particularly shone when they’ve played, Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip aren’t the commanding centre half we wanted them to be and there was a call for a new number 6 with Henderson seen as an inadequate player to cover the back four.
The only position that seemed filled was upfront, Roberto Firmino fully epitomised the tactics of manager Jurgen Klopp and was reaping the benefits of fitting so well into that ‘false 9’ role. Whilst he’s no Harry Kane or Sergio Aguero in terms of goal scoring the Brazilian has still managed to net nine league goals this season; sitting 8th in the overall rankings. The pressing and awareness from Firmino also brings the teams wingers into the game; with Liverpool’s most dangerous players now coming on the wing in the form of Sadio Mane and Mo Salah.
The recent transfer business by the club has gone some way to matching a spine that can compete with the four of Reina, Carragher, Gerrard and Torres from back in 2008. We’ve got the striker; Van Dijk has come in at the back and whilst it’s early days the signs are promising and finally Naby Keita is coming in this summer to add something different to our very flat midfield, the only thing missing from the side is a reliable goalkeeper.
There’s been talk about Liverpool looking for a new goalkeeper recently with the likes of Kevin Trapp, Jack Butland and Roma goalkeeper Alisson linked with a move to Liverpool. Out of the three the Brazilian keeper Alisson has been the most heavily linked with reports suggesting the two clubs are negotiating and that he could be announced as a Liverpool player later this month. I think this signing could go a long way to having a four in Alisson, Van Dijk, Keita and Firmino that is up there as the best in the league. The Roma keeper is currently keeping Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson out of the side and if his performances this season can’t bump him up the pecking order then Alisson must be doing something right at Roma.
As mentioned, both goalkeepers have been far from convincing since they joined; last season Loris Karius faced 32 shots on target in 900 minutes of football. He conceded 12 goals meaning that the German saved 62.5% of the shots that he was faced with. Mignolet fares slightly worse than his team mate; saving roughly 58.2% of the 55 shots on target faced in 1620 minutes. Comparing this to Alisson, the Brazilian has not had a save percentage as low as Mignolet or Karius in any of his professional seasons. Aged 22 in 2014, he notched up 990 minutes in goal for Internacional – one game more than Karius managed last season – and had a save percentage of 70.9%. The following year he established himself as the teams starting goalkeeper and from facing 104 shots on target he conceded only 21; putting his save percentage that season as 79.9%.
That summer he got his move over to Roma and after playing a season as second fiddle to Szczęsny he was promoted to first team duties after the Polish keepers move to Juventus this summer. So far in Italy this season, Alisson has faced 60 shots on target, conceding only 11 with a save percentage of 81.7%.
Considering the step up from the Brazilian league to the Italian League Alisson’s performances have been outstanding, Simon Mignolet’s only redeeming quality was his ability to stop shots and Alisson even trumps him in that department. At the age of 25 Alisson is relatively young considering how long goalkeepers careers last for; that means that there is time for Jurgen Klopp and the coaching team to work on him and iron out any issues he might have should he move over to the Premier League.
Earlier in the article there were other names thrown out there alongside Alisson, the likes of Kevin Trapp and Jack Butland also spoken about to replace Mignolet. Personally I don’t think the other two are good enough to guarantee an upgrade on what we already have at the club; Alisson has already proven himself at Roma and barring a bad run of form will most likely be Brazil’s starting goalkeeper at the World Cup. With the moves we have made in the transfer market and the statement signings we’ve made like Virgil Van Dijk we can’t compromise when it comes to our goalkeeper; a signing like Alisson is in a similar mould to a signing like Van Dijk or Naby Keita and with all three of them at the club, Liverpool have a base to work from that is just as good if not better than the other top clubs in the Premier League.
Article by Louis Connor
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