This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Liverpool legend Ray Clemence has hailed fellow goalkeeper Alisson for making a “huge difference” to Liverpool’s side this season after making important saves at important times following his move to Anfield.
After arriving from Serie A giants AS Roma for £66.8m last summer, the jury was out on whether the Brazilian could ever justify his price-tag. But after an impressive first season at the club which culminated in winning the Champions League, it’s fair to say to Alisson has more than played his part.
Having seen the 26-year-old’s debut campaign, Reds legend Ray Clemence said (via the Liverpool Echo): “There is no questioning that Alisson has done extremely well, and made a huge difference to Liverpool’s defensive qualities.
“The club might have paid a lot of money for him, but that’s not the issue. He had to prove his worth irrespective of the size of the fee, and he has done that to such an extent that you would have to say that it has been money well spent.
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“The hallmark of a great goalkeeper is not just about making great saves, but making important saves, vital saves, and that is what marks Alisson out as an exceptional goalkeeper worthy of the price. When you are 1-0 up or 1-0 down, whether in a narrow winning position or narrowly behind but still in the game, that is when you need your goalkeeper to keep you in the game, and that is what Alisson has done consistently.”
Such was Virgil van Dijk’s ridiculous levels of performance last season that it was easy to forget that Liverpool had ten other players out there on the pitch. And out of the rest, Alisson perhaps had the biggest influence on the Reds’ success.
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Jurgen Klopp’s side were stuck with calamity-prone Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius the season before and everyone saw how that ended up against Real Madrid. What the 26-year-old brought was a calmness and reassuring presence to his teammates, and a feeling of resignation to the opposition who realised that if they somehow managed to get past Van Dijk, Alisson was still in the way.
As Clemence attested to, the great goalkeepers make the big saves and two of his standout ones against Napoli and Everton were crucial in gaining victory for his side in hard-fought contests. Having now had a full season of English football under his belt, the room for improvement for Alisson is scary and if he ends up staying at Anfield for the years to come, there’s no reason why the Brazilian can’t match Clemence’s status at the club.