Is Alisson a great goalkeeper? If social media after the Champions League game against Napoli is any indication then the Brazilian is Yashin, Banks and Buffon rolled into one.
But really, how good is he? In February this year, ex-Roma goalkeeping coach Roberto Negrisolo labeled him the Lionel Messi of goalkeepers and opined that the Brazilian was worth more than the 50 million euros he was then estimated to be worth. Negrisolo was correct with the latter assessment; Alisson joined Liverpool five months later for a whooping 75 million euros. As for the Lionel Messi thing, it is too early for such lofty proclamations.
You can argue that presently Oblak and de Gea just edge him as the very best, not necessarily in terms of ability but by having done it in Europe over a longer period of time. Yet, one thing is certain. Liverpool look a heck of a lot surer at the back with the Brazilian between the posts.
Also, it can be debated that he is seen in such glorified light because the incumbents before him were not up to scratch. Right now, Liverpool has Mignolet as a backup who is not as bad as people make him out to be, especially as a shot stopper. However, the Belgian lacks Alisson’s command and the calm the Brazilian brings when the opposition approaches the 18-yard box. The less said about Karius, last season’s number one, the better. So, how can we truly measure Alisson’s value so far at the club?
Statistically, his save percentage is the highest of all goalkeepers in the league and Liverpool have conceded the least number of goals so far. Yet, stats can be misleading. The best way to gauge a goalkeeper’s contribution is to look closely at the errors and saves and how they’ve impacted the game.
With regards to mistakes, the one when he tried the Cruyff turn against Leicester comes to mind. However, that goal did not cost his team any points. The saves, though, are where you begin to think that Roberto Negrisolo might be on to something. If Napoli equalises, you are looking at Europa League and Thursday nights for Liverpool. In other words, their Premier League run would be harder with less turnaround time for the players, besides the psychological downer of not playing in the biggest European competition. And, of course, there is the small matter of the millions that Liverpool would miss out on by not being in the Champions League.
In the Premier League, his save in the Merseyside derby off Gomes’ header and his intervention against Burnley were both worth two points in the end. Alisson was also worth a point against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge when he denied Willian and Hazard. That’s five points in total.
Without those five points and the Napoli save, Liverpool would be four behind Man City and just one and three points above Tottenham and Chelsea, respectively, in the league to go with Europa League football. That’s pretty impactful. Messi of goalkeepers? Long way to get there, but right now, Alisson is the best Liverpool have had for a long time and the fans should be happy with that.