Liverpool’s record keeper
Lev Yashin was the poster boy of the World Cup: the incomparable goalkeeper, all in black, jumping high to his left to save a shot. It is an indelible image of football history, and Russia has never had a finer and more significant hero than the legend known as the “Black Spider”, a player who remains the only keeper to have won the Ballon d’Or.
So perhaps it wasn’t merely coincidence that, within days of the tournament ending, Liverpool smashed the world-record transfer fee for a goalkeeper by signing Alisson in a £67million deal from Roma.
Great keepers are gold dust. Their value is immense and a crazy truth of football is that this has rarely been reflected in the money clubs were prepared to pay.
Alisson’s fee more than doubled the previous record of £32m paid by Juventus to acquire Gianluigi Buffon some 17 years ago.
That is a mere bagatelle compared to the monster inflation of transfer payments for outfield players in the past two decades.
Nevertheless, many critics were swift and loud in damning Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, accusing him of wildly over-paying for a goalkeeper. But they obviously don’t know their football history. Klopp does.
There are countless examples of how crucial goalkeepers have been to glory. For example, the most important signing Brian Clough ever sanctioned at Nottingham Forest was a then mammoth £250,000 deal for England’s Peter Shilton.
Within a year Forest had won the league title, Shilton conceding only 18 goals in 37 matches. The next two seasons they won the European Cup.
Alex Ferguson has always understood the diamond value of a world-class keeper and so much of Manchester United’s rise to dominance was due to Peter Schmeichel.
Juventus have surely never spent more wisely than their world record for Buffon, who was instrumental in helping the club win 11 Serie A titles before departing this summer.
Even at the age of 40, Buffon was instantly acquired by Paris Saint-Germain, a club of mountainous ambition. They hope the old man can win them the Champions League.
Liverpool’s prime ambition is to win the Premier League for a first time in 28 years. It is the most barren spell without the title in the club’s entire history.
Long before the hapless errors by Loris Karius in the Champions League Final, Klopp knew that a world-class keeper had to be brought to Anfield. He knows his history and he had also seen the profound impact on Manchester City last season when they paid more than £30m to sign Ederson, the final and seriously crucial piece in Pep Guardiola’s jigsaw.
Ederson is Brazilian but is only the secondchoice for his country and stayed on the bench at the World Cup.
Brazil believe their finest man with the gloves is Alisson, a number one whose composure is often remarkable. A quick search of the web will uncover the moment last season in a Serie A match against Crotone where he did the ”sombrero” trick in his own area to go past an opponent.
This is the sublime skill beloved of Ronaldinho in which a player flicks the ball over his opponent and runs round to collect it again. It may seem extravagant and more than a touch crazy, yet the Roma tifosi adored Alisson for it.
Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco has claimed that Alisson is “the goalkeeper of the future”, but more accurately we might reflect that paying proper transfer fees for keepers is the future.
The summer has been full of speculation about them, including England’s admirable newcomer Jordan Pickford, who was such a revelation in Russia. Real Madrid have been actively chasing the signature of Chelsea and Belgium keeper Thibaut Courtois, another to perform with distinction at the World Cup. If they are unable to get him, another likely target is Hugo Lloris of Tottenham Hotspur and new global champions France.
Yes, perhaps it isn’t merely coincidence, with the memory of Yashin in mind and the sight of a keeper as the World Cup-winning captain, that the major football clubs are now ready to splash good cash for a No1.
Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco has claimed that Alisson is “the goalkeeper of the future”
World record...Liverpool paid £67million this summer for Roma’s Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson