Yes, Alisson’s mistake against Leicester was embarrassing and Liverpool were lucky it wasn’t costly, but fans of the Reds needn’t worry as they themselves must adapt to finally having a confident goalkeeper between the sticks.
The club seem to have had a goalkeeping problem ever since Pepe Reina started making basic mistakes towards the end of his Anfield career. The Spaniard was undoubtedly a success and spent eight years at the club, but errors crept into his game and then his head was turned by Barcelona after rumours that Victor Valdes was to leave the Nou Camp.
A move to Barca never materialised but Liverpool had already signed Simon Mignolet from Sunderland in a £9m deal to be Reina’s long-term replacement.
With the Black Cats, Mignolet had looked sturdy and secure in the midst of a poor team and many Liverpool fans might have realistically expected him to become the club’s number one for a decade.
Unfortunately, after saving a last-minute penalty against Stoke on his debut at Anfield to secure Liverpool a 1-0 win, things started to go downhill pretty quickly for the big Belgian. Mignolet always looked nervous when crosses came into the box and he was even more of a wreck if the ball came back to his feet, often making the whole of Anfield uneasy.
Then, just two years ago, Loris Karius was brought in from Mainz in what seemed to be a bargain £4.75m deal for the goalkeeper who had been voted the second best in Germany behind Manuel Neuer the season before.
Of course, everyone already knows the conclusion to this story and it certainly wasn’t a fairy tale happy ending in Kiev earlier this summer.
Karius’ Liverpool career is now all but over after the German agreed a two-year loan switch to Turkish side Besiktas, but Mignolet does still warm the bench now that Alisson has arrived. The Brazilian spent just two seasons at Roma, where he became one of the most sought-after keepers in world football after initially having to wait to displace former Arsenal stopper Wojciech Szczesny.
Alisson, who signed for the Merseyside club for £67m this summer, is of the new breed of goalkeepers that are just as capable of starting attacks with their passing as they are at shot stopping, similar to Manchester City’s Ederson.
Liverpool fans got their first real taste of their new keeper’s footballing ability in the home win over Brighton, where the 25-year-old nonchalantly chipped a weak back-pass over the onrushing Anthony Knockaert’s head, before controlling the ball and laying back to a presumably stunned Virgil van Dijk.
After that game, Jurgen Klopp praised Alisson’s confidence to try something different to get himself out of a tricky situation, although the German boss admitted that it had made him slightly uncomfortable.
In the Reds’ next game away at Leicester though, Liverpool were 2-0 up and cruising before the Brazilian lost sight of the ball during a Cruyff turn, allowing Kelechi Iheanacho to steal it away from him before setting up Rachid Ghezzal for his first Premier League goal, putting the Foxes in with a chance to snatch a point late on.
Alisson, who is valued at £54m by Transfermarkt, had plenty of time to smash the ball into row Z after the admittedly poor back-pass and in hindsight he should clearly have taken the easy option. But although it didn’t come off this time, in the future Liverpool fans will be thankful for his overconfidence after suffering for years with nervous goalkeepers.
Their new man’s range of passing and ability to start attacks has already been useful for the Reds and with van Dijk and Joe Gomez in front of him, Liverpool have looked far more solid as a defensive unit than at any point in recent years.
All players make mistakes and it just so happened that this one led to a goal, but the result wasn’t affected and, although it was perhaps ironic for it to happen so soon after Klopp’s comments, this was the best time for Alisson to make the error. There is no doubt that he will learn from the experience, but Liverpool fans should expect him to play exactly the same way against Tottenham after the international break, and they should be thankful for it too.
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