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The post-Reina era and why signing Alisson makes sense

According to many trustworthy sources, Liverpool have made a world-record bid for Roma’s goalkeeper, Alisson Becker.

Background

For the past few seasons, it would be safe to say that Liverpool have been linked to a goalkeeper in every single transfer window. This certainly shows the uncertainty within the club regarding the position of goalkeeper, which has been an achilles heel for the Reds since Pepe Reina left for SSC Napoli on the eve of the 2013-2014 season, on what initially was a loan deal before switching to FC Bayern Munich the following summer. Since then, no Liverpool No.1 seems to have adequately filled the shoes of the Spaniard, who won the FA Cup (2006) and League Cup (2012) during his stay in Merseyside.

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Simon Mignolet

Simon Mignolet was the first to be handed a spot in goal after Pepe Reina’s switch to Napoli. The Belgian goalkeeper went on to make an impressive debut, saving a 90th minute penalty from Stoke City’s Jon Walters to ensure the Reds got their first 3 points of what proved to be an incredible campaign. However, despite their flair and free-scoring attack, Liverpool failed to solve their defensive issues throughout the 2013/14 campaign, which is probably why they fell short and lost the title race to Manchester City. Although Simon Mignolet wasn’t heavily critisized, it was the general consensus among Liverpool supporters that Mignolet wasn’t the right goalkeeper for the team.

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Loris Karius

With no real competition for the No.1 spot, Mignolet was Liverpool’s starting goalkeeper until summer 2016, when Jurgen Klopp signed Loris Karius from Mainz for a fee of £4.75m to provide competition. After breaking his hand during a pre-season friendly against Chelsea, Loris Karius was unfit to start the season and was made to wait to make his debut until September 20th in a League Cup tie against Derby County which was closely followed by his first Premier League match against Hull City, just 4 days later. One month after his first Premier League start, Jurgen Klopp confirmed during a press conference that Loris Karius would be Liverpool’s starting goalkeeper ahead of Simon Mignolet, with whom most Liverpool fans had lost patience.

However, Karius did not prove to be the answer to Liverpool’s goalkeeper issues. A few unsteady performances were soon followed by a crucial error in early December 2016 which gifted Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake what proved to be a late winner, ending the Reds’ long unbeaten run in the process. Klopp decided to take Karius “out of the firing line”, claiming that “he is a young goalkeeper. He will improve”. Karius was subsequently dropped from the starting 11 and Mignolet was restored in goal until the end of the season, with Karius getting no game time after the Reds were knocked out of the FA Cup by Wolves in late January 2017.

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However, Jurgen Klopp kept his faith in Karius and tried to get him back in the picture for the 2017-18 season. Karius made his first appearance during Liverpool’s 4-0 thrashing of Arsenal, in a game where Arsenal failed to record a single shot on target. However Karius failed to properly clear the ball twice, deflecting it against opposition players and thus still managing to raise doubts regarding his future at the club. Karius remained Liverpool’s “cup goalkeeper” until Christmas, starting each one of the Reds’ Champions League group stage games, as well as a League Cup tie against Leicester City.

With neither him nor Mignolet impressing, Jurgen Klopp took a gamble for the second year in a row and handed Loris Karius the No.1 jersey for all competitions for the 2nd part of the 2017-18 season. Karius went on to make some good appearances in that period but following his horrendous display against Real Madrid in the Champions League final, it was pretty much obvious that things would never be the same again for him at the club.

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Why buying Alisson makes sense

Jurgen Klopp stated that Liverpool would not be forced into panic-buying a new goalkeeper. However, after Karius’ shaky start to the pre-season, he has probably changed his mind. Karius seems to have completely lost trust in himself and it doesn’t seem that he is going to bounce back anytime soon. As numerous trusted sources today reported, Liverpool have made a £66.2m for Roma and Brazil’s goalkeeper, Alisson Becker, who is widely regarded as one of the best in the game at the moment. This if anything else is a statement of intent; a statement that Liverpool are not afraid to spend money to improve the team and bring silverware back to Anfield.

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Writer’s opinion

Personally, I am a big fan of Alisson. His distribution, an area crucial to Liverpool’s fast-paced build-up play, seems to be impeccable and he has managed to pull off some incredible saves in both the Serie A and the Champions League over the past couple of seasons. In fact, with 47 saves in last year’s UCL, he was the goalkeeper with the most saves in the competition and it is the general consensus among Roma supporters that Alisson was one of the most influential players in the club’s run to the semi-finals of the competition. However, by signing Alisson, Liverpool will be making an investment. They are going to be signing a world-class goalkeeper who has proven his ability to perform in a big stage. If Alisson eventually signs for Liverpool, he is certainly going to receive full support from everyone at the club from day one and will almost certainly be guaranteed a starting 11 spot in what probably is the best Liverpool team of the past decade.

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Only time will tell if Alisson becomes a Liverpool player, but it is almost guaranteed that his signature will bring joy as well as relief among the Anfield faithful.

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