Alisson Becker found himself the subject of conversation in a surprise manner on Monday night – and are some people taking Liverpool goalkeeper for granted?
While Alisson Becker would no doubt have welcomed his name being read out at an awards ceremony on Monday night, it wasn’t quite as the Liverpool goalkeeper would have anticipated.
Alisson found himself unexpectedly being namechecked by comedian and lifelong Reds follower John Oliver during an acceptance speech at the Emmy awards in Los Angeles.
A few hours earlier at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, however, an announcement regarding the Brazil international was conspicuously absent as two other keepers were honoured at the FIFA Best Football Awards for 2024.
Manchester City shotstopper Ederson took home the Best Goalkeeper award while, somewhat confusingly, Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois was chosen in the FIFA FIFPRO Men’s World XI.
With the awards handed out for performances last season following the mid-term World Cup, Ederson’s victory is unsurprising with City having won the Champions League. Courtois, meanwhile, benefited from the unique favouritism often afforded any Real Madrid player. Manchester United’s Andre Onana was another goalkeeper nominated.
But even in terms of performances in the Premier League this season, there is a feeling Alisson continues to be overlooked.
Take a panel of Sky Sports pundits who, when asked for their team of the campaign so far earlier this month, chose not to pick the Liverpool goalkeeper. Each of Sue Smith, Clinton Morrison, Michael Dawson and Paul Merson instead named Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario, with Tim Sherwood going for Emi Martinez of Aston Villa.
And on the broadcaster’s flagship Monday Night Football show, Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher also plumped for Vicario. Intriguingly, only former Manchester United defender Gary Neville selected Alisson
“Someone like Guglielmo Vicario has a case to be in the team of the season so far, but Alisson is a different level – you can’t compare them,” says ex-Liverpool left-back Jose Enrique. “He is undoubtedly the best goalkeeper in the world. Liverpool would not be in the position that they are today without Alisson.”
Certainly, in terms of silverware, Alisson has swept up, integral to Liverpool winning the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, League Cup and a first-ever Club World Cup. Only injury prevented him starring in the UEFA Super Cup win over Chelsea in August 2019.
But even when the Reds have been unable to compete for silverware, the Brazilian has continued to shine, such as last term and, most famously, when heading home a dramatic late winner at West Bromwich Albion that kept alive hopes of unlikely Champions League qualification in 2020/21.
It has been much the case again this term. From having made what he regards his best Premier League save back in August when repelling Miguel Almiron’s thunderbolt in the 2-1 win at Newcastle United, Alisson has arguably been the best performer for a Reds side that tops the table by two points from champions City.
The keeper has undoubtedly been helped by a return to form of Virgil van Dijk in front of him and an overall increased defensive resolve that has ensured Liverpool possess the best rearguard in the top-flight at present.
But when called upon, Alisson delivers. No goalkeeper can top his 77.4% save percentage in the Premier League this term while he is conceding fewer than a goal a game in the competition. His percentage of clean sheets is surpassed only by Nick Pope – who has played significantly fewer matches – while for good reason is Alisson regarded the best in the world in one-on-one situations, the most reason example of which saw him force Reiss Nelson wide and prevent Liverpool falling behind early on in their FA Cup third round win at Arsenal.
A few days earlier, Alisson had made his 250th appearance in the 4-2 Premier League win over Newcastle. Only seven goalkeepers have featured more times in Liverpool’s history, while only Ray Clemence and Pepe Reina can claim a higher percentage of clean sheets. But different eras demand different types of keeper, and none that have gone before at Anfield have possessed the overall skillset of Alisson. And, aged 32, the Brazilian has yet to approach his goalkeeping prime.
What has also perhaps aided Alisson this season is the greater rest between games. He has featured only once in the Europa League and hasn’t at all in the League Cup, in which Caoimhin Kelleher continues to prove an able deputy. The Brazilian, though, will be back between the sticks for the Premier League visit to Bournemouth on Sunday, further refreshed by the mid-winter break.
Recent evidence suggest Alisson might be taken for granted somewhat outside Anfield. But Liverpool – and fans such as John Oliver – know they wouldn’t want anyone else between the sticks. If an encouraging season is to become a great one for Klopp’s side, the Brazil international will be crucial.
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