Alisson’s St. James' Park heroics outline all-time great status

If ever you want to terrify yourself, just imagine where Liverpool would be without Alisson between the sticks.

The prospect is more horrifying than sitting through one of the Saw films with a brutal hangover.

There have been so many Liverpool heroes during this great era at the club, not least Jurgen Klopp himself, who remains possibly the most important thing to happen at Anfield in the past 30 years.

On the pitch, tales will forever be told about the feats of Mohamed Salah, who is one of the greatest Reds players ever, while Virgil van Dijk is one of the most formidable centre-backs of all time in peak form.

But Alisson is unquestionably Liverpool’s most priceless asset at present, and that has been the case for at least the last 12 months, if not longer.

The Brazilian was always a world-class goalkeeper from the second he donned a Reds jersey in 2018, immediately making his side a greater force along with Van Dijk, turning them into European and English champions instead of a good team who were flawed defensively.

Constant awards have come Alisson's way down the years, from the Best FIFA Goalkeeper in 2019 to Liverpool’s Player of the Year last season, and there hasn’t been a more consistent ‘keeper on the planet since he traded Rome for Merseyside.

It is since the Reds have dropped off as an all-conquering force that the genius of Alisson has come to the fore even more, though, with the 30-year-old bailing out a creaking defence time and time again.

Last season, he saved Liverpool 10.1 goals in the Premier League, according to FBref, which was more than any other player in his position. Fulham’s Bernd Leno was next up with a tally of nine.

The Reds struggled badly and finished fifth in the table, but if the Reds had a goalkeeper who is merely human instead, you dread to think what their eventual placing would have been.

Alisson has started this season in a similarly imperious run of form, making major contributions in the opening three games, not least in Sunday’s epic 2-1 victory away to Newcastle – a win that will live long in the memory.

With Klopp’s men down both a goal and a man, Liverpool’s number one produced a sensational save to keep out Miguel Almiron, almost bringing back memories of Gordon Banks’ legendary save to deny Pele for England against Brazil in 1970, in terms of the way he plucked the ball out of the air and tipped it onto the crossbar.

Speaking after the game, a beleaguered Eddie Howe couldn’t hide his admiration for what proved to be a match-changing stop, saying: "We had a lot of chances, goalmouth action, and their goalkeeper has made one of the best saves I’ve ever seen."

That’s high praise indeed from the Newcastle manager, but it was a moment that left you desperate to see a replay, such was its brilliance.

But this isn’t a save you normally see Alisson even have to make, with his positional sense so perfect and the speed of his feet so fast that he is rarely even forced into extending himself to the absolute limits.

So many keepers are praised for supposedly ‘spectacular’ saves when Alisson would save the same shots in his sleep – Jordan Pickford and Aaron Ramsdale, let's be honest! – but even he needed to be at his flamboyant best at St. James’ Park, bailing out his side in stunning fashion.

The level Alisson is reaching currently is so incredibly high that we now have to be speaking about him as one of the greatest in his field, such is the influence he is having.

It goes without saying that he is now well out in front with Ray Clemence as Liverpool’s leading keeper in history, but is there anyone really ahead of him since the Premier League started in 1992?

Of course, Peter Schmeichel immediately springs to mind, much as it pains any Reds supporters to admit it, while Petr Cech, David Seaman, Edwin van der Sar and Ederson have all been wonderful players in their own right, with more trophies coming their way than Alisson.

But as a pure all-round goalkeeper, has anyone been as complete?

Alisson is nerveless and effective on the ball, even if the odd lapse can happen, with so many key assists coming his way since arriving, not least two for Mohamed Salah in Anfield wins over Manchester United and Manchester City.

Meanwhile, his shot-stopping, one-on-one expertise, level of calm and overall influence are hard to better, and he possesses an aura that seemingly gets into the heads of opposition strikers.

We may only truly be able to fully assess the Brazil star when he eventually hangs up his boots, which hopefully won’t be for many years to come, but with each performance, the more he is threatening the all-time greats.

© Proshots - Alisson Becker

Names such as Lev Yashin, Gianluigi Buffon, Manuel Neuer and Schmeichel will always get a mention as the ‘GOAT’ in goal, but Alisson could belong in that company eventually if he isn’t right now.

Rival supporters will naturally use the longevity argument against him when comparing him to some, and the trophy angle with others, but Klopp likely wouldn’t swap him for anyone, which is just about the biggest compliment you can pay him.

Without Alisson, Liverpool would have succumbed to defeat at Newcastle last weekend, and dropped so many other points en route to other wins and trophy triumphs – that last-gasp save against Napoli was one of his best, in the season the Reds won the Champions League – and he is the most important player at the club by some distance right now.

In some ways, you don’t want your goalkeepers to be this noticeable, but equally, it is an absolute joy to watch Alisson, and always has been.

The man even scores last-minute winners!

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