Alisson: ‘I’ll stop taking these risks in the Premier League’
Liverpool’s £65m goalkeeper won’t repeat his Leicester error at Stamford Bridge
Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson. Between the Brazilian and Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, there’ll be more than £136 million between the goalposts at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Photograph: Peter Powell/Reuters
Absurd and crazy are the words Alisson chooses to describe his £65 million transfer fee. In the end the Brazilian was the most expensive goalkeeper on the planet for all of 20 days before Chelsea invested an extra £6.6 million in Kepa Arrizabalaga, ensuring there will be £136.6 million worth of talent between the posts at Stamford Bridge when the title contenders renew hostilities on Saturday.
Alisson’s description of his price tag does not reflect unease, however. As the younger brother of a professional goalkeeper, the son of parents who kept goal for the works football team and the school handball team, and the great-grandson of an amateur league goalkeeper in his hometown of Novo Hamburgo, there is satisfaction at what this summer’s transfer market symbolises for his trade. It is the price of turning hope into expectation at Liverpool.
“When I went up from the youth team to the first team at Internacional it was a risk – they were almost betting on me making it,” says Alisson, who gives long, considered answers to every question he faces in an executive lounge at Anfield.
“Similarly, when I went to Roma from Brazil, there was an element of risk in that move too, but when Liverpool signed me there was a lot more certainty about it. I appreciate some people think that it’s a crazy, absurd amount of money, I understand that, but what is more important for me is the expectation that is placed on me. I’m coming off the best season I’ve ever had and I’m hoping to do even better this season. During that period I was the most expensive goalkeeper in the world and that was quickly followed by Chelsea signing Kepa. I’m calm about it. I’ve always worked really hard and I’ll continue working the same way whatever the size of the transfer fee.
“But things have definitely changed recently. There is an increasing demand of goalkeepers in world football. It is not just the technical qualities they need but the leadership qualities and communication skills to help out the team. These are all characteristics I believe I possess. Goalkeeper is a very influential position and that is becoming recognised now. If you think about it, any error that we make can be fatal for the team. It can lead to a goal and cause a defeat. I am really happy with the increased recognition that goalkeepers are getting now. I’m glad to be a leading part of that.”
Talking of errors – well, he mentioned it first – Alisson experienced the intense scrutiny that falls on a Liverpool keeper irrespective of price after being dispossessed by Kelechi Iheanacho for Leicester City’s consolation in the 2-1 win this month. The mistake was not costly but a lesson. There was a time when the Brazil international would have shut himself away following such a slip. Experience has taught him to be philosophical.
I like to keep it simple. My saves are not to show off or Hollywood saves for the camera
“I am more mature today so I deal better with the mistakes than the many times when I locked myself away in my room and wanted to be alone,” he says, laughing. “But if you look at my professional history as a goalkeeper I’m not somebody who makes many mistakes. My game is characterised by consistency and that is what has brought me to Liverpool and helped me develop. I like to make simple saves. I don’t make saves for the camera. If the ball is in front of me I won’t dive. If it’s to the side of me I will dive to the side. I like to keep it simple. My saves are not to show off or Hollywood saves for the camera. I am working on playing with my feet so I take risks because I am waiting for options. I am waiting for the centre-backs to produce an option, I’m waiting for the full-backs to appear as well; hoping that a space for a pass will appear at the last moment.
“That’s what happened in the Leicester game. I was waiting for that option of a pass, leaving it very late for the option to appear. In that situation, though, I was left with the only option which was to dribble and the ball held up in the grass. If it hadn’t held up in the grass I think it would have been a successful dribble.
The secret of the wise man is to learn from the errors of others. Unfortunately in the Leicester game it was my error
“I was pushed from behind as well, and that was a real learning curve for me about the Premier League. Here the referees maybe don’t call the fouls that you would expect to get in other leagues. Things are different here to other countries and I’ve learned that I can’t expect the referee to call the foul. Today I will take less risks and when the options aren’t appearing I will clear it into the stands or play a long ball up front.
“The secret of the wise man is to learn from the errors of others. Unfortunately in the Leicester game it was my error. I do take some risks and leave it late to play the ball but I’ll stop taking these risks in the Premier League because of the different style of play, the physicality and the different refereeing styles.”
Alisson has found Liverpool to be everything he hoped it would be, and more, after speaking to Philippe Coutinho about a potential move before the World Cup. Coutinho was in the same Brazil under-17 squad as Alisson when the goalkeeper was first called up for international duty.
“He spoke highly of Jürgen [Klopp] and about the players,” Alisson says. “He said there is no vanity in the squad but it’s a very ambitious squad with a strong desire to win. Coutinho also said he was very happy here with his family, which is really important. Our wives spoke to each other too, and they said they had a great time living here, and we are very happy.”
Alisson’s first experience of Anfield also made a deep impression when on the receiving end of a 5-2 defeat with Roma in last season’s Champions League semi-final first leg.
“It was a very influential and significant experience for me. The game was unexpected. We expected to get a victory. What was lacking in my team was we didn’t give due respect to Liverpool. We thought we would pressure Liverpool and go toe-to-toe with them at Anfield. As we know, that didn’t happen.
“The atmosphere I experienced here contributed to my decision to sign. There was also the way the Liverpool team played. It’s not dependent upon one player, it’s a real group effort. It’s a team that plays with love and passion.”