Why Liverpool's success next season could depend on getting THIS goalkeeper

Liverpool might be one of the highest-generating football clubs in the world but, unlike some of their rivals, they have a finite transfer budget. 

They won’t put themselves in financial difficulties purely to win the transfer window. They won’t overstretch or blow up their wage budget. Simply put, if the deal doesn’t make financial sense, they’ll do the big boy thing and walk away from it, though not every fan is best pleased with this approach.

With all this in mind, a £20 million move for a backup goalkeeper would seem like nothing more than paper talk, wouldn’t it? Yet there might be something in those links to Michele Di Gregorio.

The Monza shot-stopper had an outrageous 2023/24 campaign in Serie A and is now being tipped for a move to Juventus to succeed the departing Wojciech Szczęsny. Bizarrely, he missed out on a place in the Italy squad for Euro 2024.

Luciano Spalletti named a strong squad and the reigning champions could well retain their title, but the exclusion of Di Gregorio was an eyebrow-raising decision.

 

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His exploits between the sticks helped the Biancorossi to a respectable 12th-placed finish last term. The 26-year-old prevented over 10 goals last term and saved 80% of the shots he faced.

For context, during Alisson’s final season with Roma, the Brazilian shot-stopper prevented 7.4 goals and had a save success rate of 81%. In fact, his best performance between the sticks in terms of goals prevented arrived during the 2023/23 campaign when he finished with a +10.1 while his highest save percentage (77.1%)  was during this debut season at Anfield.

Di Gregorio posting Alisson-esque numbers

The numbers Di Gregorio put up last season are Alisson-esque, to say the least. Albeit, the sample size isn’t the largest. The point is, you are getting a very good shot-stopper for a reasonable price and the club could easily treble his salary and he would still be one of the lowest earners at Liverpool.

Goalkeepers improve with age too, so Di Gregorio could well scale new heights. Especially if he’s training week in and week out with Alisson and Taffarel. There is a world in which he eventually challenges the ex-Roma man for a place in Arne Slot’s starting XI.

He’s also five years Alisson’s junior, so even if he can’t displace him, and there’d be no shame in that, he could be well-positioned to replace him.

Michele di Gregorio of Monza

Bologna FC v AC Monza - Serie A TIM Michel Aebischer and Michele Di Gregorio are playing during the Bologna FC 1909 match against AC Monza in Serie A at Renato Dall Ara Stadium in Bologna, Italy, on April 12, 2024. Bologna Italy Italy PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxFRA Copyright: xAlessioxMorgesex originalFilename:morgese-bolognaf240413_npvrK.jpg

In the short term though, Liverpool do need a backup goalkeeper of a certain quality. Caoimhín Kelleher is expected to finally leave the club this summer in search of first-team football. The Republic of Ireland international made 10 appearances in the Premier League last season as he filled in for the injured No.1. He featured 26 times across all competitions. For added context here, in the previous four campaigns, the 25-year-old made a combined 21 appearances.

Di Gregorio is durable

Kelleher’s involvement last season highlights the need for a reliable understudy to Alisson. The Brazilian might be the best in the world, but his availability can be a bit of a problem. He’s prone to the odd knock. In fact, the 31-year-old has appeared in 34 or more English top-flight matches in just three of his six campaigns with the Reds. On two occasions, he’s failed to hit 30 league games.

A lot of his problems are muscle-related and they tend to reoccur. If Liverpool are to be in a title race, every single game needs to be treated as a must-win match. To give them the best chance, they need a reliable goalkeeper between the sticks.

And this doesn’t just mean a reliable performer but someone who is reliably available. Di Gregorio has racked up 70 appearances across two Serie A campaigns for Monza. Of the six top-flight games he’s missed, three are tied to head injuries. So he’s missed three due to the odd knock. You’d take that, wouldn’t you?

Richard Hughes has a fairly long to-do list this summer and while many people wouldn’t have a big-money back-up goalkeeper on their transfer wishlist, there is an argument to be made for this being a priority, especially if the reports are true and Kelleher is looking to depart.

 Liverpool’s success next season could well hinge on it.

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