Clemence on Alisson
Three-time European Cup winner explains Liverpool's Alisson advantage and how Brazilian has made 'huge difference'
Ray Clemence hailed the impact the Brazilian shot-stopper has made and believes he can follow in his own footsteps to become an Anfield legend
The foundation of any good team comes from defence.
It's a case that has been proven time and time again by Europe's top teams throughout the history of football.
And when there is a perfect balance between the goalkeeper and those playing in the backline the results are often breathtaking.
Take Liverpool as a shining example of this. Just two seasons ago the unstable defensive setup was leaking goals before the addition of Virgil van Dijk in January 2018 and Alisson last summer transformed the Reds rear guard into one of the best in Europe, leading Jurgen Klopp's side to become European champions in 2019.
Both of those world-class players made an almost immeasurable difference, and you won't find many examples of title-winning teams without a sensational goalkeeper and centre back in their ranks, so the record-breaking fees Liverpool paid to secure both players' services was a clear product of sound logic from the scouting team, coaching group and club board.
And Ray Clemence, who won five league titles and three European Cups during his time between the sticks at Anfield and is considered the greatest player to pull on the gloves in the club’s illustrious history, believes that the Reds only now need to go in front to win games due to just how good their defence is.
“You always felt like Liverpool needed at least two goals to win a game in the season before last,” he said.
“At 1-0 you just thought they might concede but now if they go one in front they can win the game as they have proved.”
Speaking in the Official Story of Liverpool’s 2018-2019 Season, which is set for release tomorrow, former goalkeeper Clemence highlighted just how good he believes Alisson is.
“There is no questioning that Alisson has done extremely well, and made a huge difference to Liverpool’s defensive qualities,” he explained.
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“The club might have paid a lot of money for him, but that’s not the issue. He had to prove his worth irrespective of the size of the fee, and he has done that to such an extent that you would have to say that it has been money well spent.
“The hallmark of a great goalkeeper is not just about making great saves, but making important saves, vital saves, and that is what marks Alisson out as an exceptional goalkeeper worthy of the price. When you are 1-0 up or 1-0 down, whether in a narrow winning position or narrowly behind but still in the game, that is when you need your goalkeeper to keep you in the game, and that is what Alisson has done consistently.
Alisson of Liverpool makes a save during the UEFA Champions League final against Tottenham Hotspur at Estadio Metropolitano (Image: Getty Images)
“Technically, he has all the attributes of an outstanding goalkeeper, he is a great size, quick on his feet, and – as the modern game has changed so much where keepers have the ball at their feet, more than they do in their hands – he is good with his feet.
“He commands his box and he commands the people around him. He has been a great signing and a great presence about him, to such an extent that even before the kick-off the opposition will look at him and think he will be difficult to beat, he just stands there and he looks big and strong and in control.
“When he did make a mistake against Leicester and got caught in possession – and you can’t expect things to go your way 100 percent as a keeper – he learned from that error, and he realised you cannot play too much or you might cost your side a goal.
“It’s always a good sign when a goalkeeper, or any player for that matter, is prepared to learn, as nobody should think they’ve cracked it in this game, no one is going to have a perfect season, but he controls the back four and along with Van Dijk has made such a big difference to the team.”
Alisson was a product of the youth set-up at Brazilian side Internacional before he moved to Europe to join AS Roma in 2016, although he spent most of his first season in Italy as understudy to former Arsenal stopper Wojciech Szczesny.
He made his breakthrough the following year after Szczesny moved to Juventus and his performances were vital to Roma’s progression to the Champions League semi-final, where – of course – they lost to Liverpool, but prior to that goalfest, the Romans had conceded no goals at all in five games at the Stadio Olimpico.
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Additionally, Alisson's 17 domestic shutouts helped Roma to third place in Serie A and attracted the attention of scouts across Europe’s big leagues and cemented his starting berth for Brazil in the World Cup.
Clemence believes that ability, which saw Alisson lift the Champions League trophy this year while also winning the Golden Glove in the Premier League with Liverpool keeping 21 clean sheets, means the Brazilian shot-stopper could become an Anfield legend if he wanted to.
He said: “You judge goalkeepers these days by vastly different criteria from what the rest of us had. In fact, virtually everything about goalkeeping has changed; the ball is different, it’s lighter, it moves differently, more quickly, swerves more, you need to use your feet more – all of that does make a huge difference.
“To do so well in his very first season is pretty impressive, but to be a so-called 'legend' you really need to be doing it consistently for seven, eight, nine, even 10 years at the club, then you become a genuine true legend of Liverpool FC. Also, you really do need to win things and be part of a winning team over a number of years, and he is very much capable of doing just that. He is certainly a crowd-pleaser, and he has also settled in Merseyside very quickly and that’s important sign that he will be there a long time and accomplish all that he is capable of doing.”
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