Liverpool's well-documented goalkeeping woes as Reds make £62 Million bid for Alisson
Liverpool have been linked with a move for AS Roma keeper Alisson Becker since the turn of the year. The 25-year-old was Brazil’s first choice keeper ahead of Manchester City’s Ederson as Selecao were eliminated by Belgium at the quarterfinals stage of the just concluded FIFA World Cup 2018 tournament in Russia. Speculation had cooled off as Roma, keen to avoid selling on the cheap again after letting Salah leave last summer for £36 Million, sought a big-money fee. The Reds had feared they’d be out priced following interest from Real Madrid and Chelsea.
According to Italian journalists Fabrizio Romano and Gianluca Di Marzio, who both work for Sky Sports, Liverpool have begun talks with Roma over the deal. Although Sky Sports have quickly quashed the rumours, there is a reason for Liverpool fans to be optimistic, at least for now with the Reds linked with both Fekir and Alisson in the last few days. An early move for World Cup winner Fekir fell through after his medical last month but there have been signs a deal could still be on the cards to give Liverpool fans a dream summer.
First choice keeper Loris Karius has struggled to recover since his nightmare performance in the Champions League final against Real Madrid in Kiev. He has followed it up with another howler in a pre-season friendly match against Tranmere Rovers. With Simon Mignolet expected to leave this summer in search of more first-team action, Klopp has a tough decision to make as Danny Ward is said to be impressing in training.
Liverpool have offered Roma a world record transfer fee for a goalkeeper of £62million, £53m up front, plus £9m of add-ons, eclipsing Buffon’s €52 Million. Alisson’s arrival would be a major statement of intent from Liverpool who would have the world’s most expensive goalkeeper and defender, van Dijk in their books ahead of next season. However, Liverpool’s offer is £4.4 million less than Roma’s valuation. Alisson is willing to accept the Liverpool’s bid should two clubs reach a “total agreement”.
Yesterday, Alisson and his agent drove Reds fans into a frenzy. Indeed, Alisson has removed any reference of Roma from his Instagram bio while his agent Ze Maria liked a photoshopped image of Alisson in a Liverpool shirt.
While the debate rages on among fans whether the Brazilian international is an upgrade on Karius, some are worried if he would have a smooth transition in Merseyside given the struggles of recent signings in his position.
Goalkeepers whose form and standard dipped under current first team goalkeeping coach John Achterberg's tutelage include; Pepe Reina who was Spain’s second choice keeper. Reina had tutorage from three different goalkeeping coaches at Liverpool. Jose Ochotorena, Valero, Mike Kelly (a brief stop-gap during Hodgson’s tenure) and then Achterberg.
Kelly’s stint apart, Reina’s save percentage decreased in line with the changes in backroom staff. Under Ochotorena, he averaged just below 85, Valero, 77, Kelly, 62. Achterberg, slightly above 70. In his last season at Anfield, Reina averaged 1.27 saves per goal and 1.35 saves a game.
Brad Jones, the Australian keeper was signed from then Championship side Middlesbrough and has since gone on to show signs of improvement after his Liverpool exit and currently plays for Feyenoord. Hungarian Peter Gulasci signed from MTK Budapest has since gone on to prove himself for Red Bull sister clubs Salzburg and Leipzig. Danny Ward, Wales second choice keeper has failed to breakthrough at Liverpool and has spent time as on loan or warming the bench as a third-choice keeper.
Simon Mignolet was Belgium keeper second choice keeper and enjoyed a good run of games until January when the No 1 shirt was handed to Karius. Mignolet’s best season as a Liverpool player was in 2013-14, where he averaged 1.7 saves per goal and 1.97 saves a game. His average as at January this year was at 1.53 saves per game and 1.21 saves per goal. Loris Karius was voted as 2nd best in goalkeeper in the German Bundesliga in his final season at Mainz only after an impressive Manuel Neuer. The German Karius average is 1.5 saves per game and 1.07 saves per goal. Not forgetting Bogdan.
The common denominator of all the above players is much-maligned goalkeeping coach John Achterberg. Jurgen has had glowing words of praise for the last surviving member of Brendan Rodgers’ reign saying he works 25 hours a day. He is Premier League’s only UEFA Pro Licence-holding goalkeeping specialists. Achterberg spent the major part of his playing career, 11 years, at Tranmere Rovers and has often been criticized for lacking the experience at the games top-level.
Whether Alisson would be the odd one out to make progress under Achterberg remains to be seen but from past experience, Liverpool should probably be in the market for a goalkeeping coach too as they shop for a new keeper.Published 18 Jul 2018, 17:44 IST