Thwarting Messi could prove the perfect Madrid audition for Alisson
Forget David de Gea and Thibaut Courtois, is Alisson destined for Real Madrid?
If he manages to stop Lionel Messi and Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals, the in-demand goalkeeper could soon be swapping Rome for the bright lights of Madrid.
Alisson only established himself as Roma's number one this season, which coincided with Wojciech Szczesny's move to Italian champions Juventus, and the Brazil international has been a revelation.
Limited to cup football last term having arrived from Internacional for a paltry fee of around €8million as an understudy to Szczesny, Alisson – who won the Campeonato Gaucho in each of his four seasons at the Brazilian side – finally made his Serie A debut in August and the 25-year-old has not looked back.
Alisson has not missed a beat in Serie A, his supreme shot-stopping and ball-playing skills proving invaluable for Eusebio Di Francesco and Roma, especially in Europe, while he has the fourth-best save percentage (80.67) of keepers in the big five leagues this season.
Those abilities – enough to keep countryman and Manchester City star Ederson out of the Brazil line-up heading into the World Cup – single-handedly preserved Roma's status in the Champions League this season.
Roma lost 2-1 away to Shakhtar Donetsk in their last-16 opener but it could have been more if not for Alisson's heroics in Ukraine.
Alisson, who has recorded four clean sheets in the 2017-18 Champions League with only Liverpool's Loris Karius and Barca's Marc-Andre ter Stegen managing more, dazzled in a performance described as "extraordinary" by Shakhtar boss Paulo Fonseca after thwarting Marlos and Taison – his close-range prowess on display.
His exploits limited the damage for Roma, who completed their comeback in the Italian capital, and he continues to attract the attention of Madrid as well as Liverpool.
"I'll always respect the career of [Gianluigi] Buffon, who has been brilliant. But I believe that Alisson, as a goalkeeper, is more technical with a different posture," former Brazil international Claudio Taffarel told Omnisport. "He always stands assertively and is confident in what he does. Alisson is really impressive.
"There is more time needed to see if he can reach the top or not, but he has the qualities to stay on top and become the best goalkeeper in the world, without doubt."
As Roma dream of their first European Cup semi-final appearance since 1983-84, all eyes will be on the towering keeper once more as Messi and his team-mates roll into town.
And while Chelsea's Courtois failed in his Madrid audition – exposed by Messi and Barca in the previous round – taking down the five-time Ballon d'Or winner and the LaLiga leaders could see Alisson move a step closer to the Santiago Bernabeu.