Why Alisson will prove to be Liverpool's most influential signing of the season
£66.7 million - the highest ever for a goalkeeper, hadn't it been for Thibaut Courtois' late tantrums. Ever since Kiev, all eyes have been on Lorius Karius and rightly so. The lesson Karius learnt was harsh, with Klopp's pursuit of Alisson not helping his case. But, there is an element of truth to Klopp's latest confession that he would have gone in for Alisson irrespective of the result at Kiev. He had made up his mind already.
Karius was on borrowed time and rightly so. Some might argue that had Karius saved, say a penalty leading to Liverpool's victory, Klopp's perception would have been vastly different. Sadly, this is not the case.
The role of a goalkeeper in modern football has changed forever since Guardiola took over the reins at Camp Nou back in 2008. The concept of a sweeper keeper was hitherto unheard of. English teams have refrained from jumping onto the bandwagon till Guardiola brought Ederson to Manchester.
And now, Liverpool have acted smartly, bringing in Alisson to add a new dimension to Liverpool's play that a confident and in-form Loris Karius could never bring to the table.
Rewind a couple of months back to the quarterfinal clash with Manchester City at the Etihad. Gabriel Jesus had given City an early lead and Liverpool were on the ropes. With the midfield being outrun by the likes of de Bruyne and David Silva, Karius punting long balls hoping one of the front three would be able to make something out of it became a recurring theme.
Liverpool had no escape route and survived largely in part to some last-ditch defending by van Dijk and Robertson. It's true all teams have off days and it's never easy for any team to protect a lead against a side as rampant and fluid as City, but Karius' shortcomings were appalling and Liverpool went home unscathed, luckily.
Fast forward to Liverpool's last two pre-season games and the opener against West Ham and it's very clear why a sweeper keeper is an invaluable addition. Those chipped lobbed balls to Robertson have already become a thing. Simply put, with Alisson on the field, the ball always stays on the ground.
Arnautovic and Felipe Anderson's attempts to pressurize the goalkeeper simply didn't work. While some would argue shot stopping, agility and reactions are the most important qualities for a goalkeeper; with sweeper keepers, sides like Liverpool can always keep the ball and more importantly, ruthlessly move the ball forward when the opposition tries to press high.
Alisson completed 24 of his 27 passes against West Ham. Karius would rarely manage a pass accuracy more than 80% last season and Alisson's distribution will be much more crucial against teams that press up high.
Add the fact that Naby Keita adds considerable drive to the midfield, Liverpool fans can get used to seeing lightning fast counter-attacks even often. Maybe that could prove to be the difference between a title challenging side and a title-winning side.Published 13 Aug 2018, 10:45 IST