Alisson Becker: The Roma goalkeeper set to meet reported suitors Liverpool
By Tommaso Fiore
Last Updated: 24/04/18 6:16pm
Liverpool will come up against their reported transfer target Alisson Becker in Tuesday's Champions League semi-final first leg with Roma, but just how good is the goalkeeper? And could he really be on his way to Anfield?
The Brazilian has been in excellent form for Roma this season, keeping five consecutive clean sheets in Champions League home games against Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Qarabag, Shakhtar Donetsk and Barcelona and earning widespread praise for his performances.
Ahead of Tuesday's encounter at Anfield, where the Brazilian will hope to keep Liverpool at bay, we examine his credentials and get the latest on his future from Sky in Italy.
Where has he come from?
Alisson came through the ranks at his hometown club Internacional, breaking into the first team in 2013 and competing for a starting place with his older brother Muriel and Brazil legend Dida.
After he had accumulated over 100 appearances in three years in the Brazilian top flight, Roma secured his services with a pre-contract agreement worth a reported eight million euros in February 2016.
He spent most of first season in Italy as the understudy to former Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, with his game time restricted to the Europa League and Coppa Italia. However, following the Pole's departure to Juventus, he was given the number one jersey for the Giallorossi's 2017/18 campaign.
How good has he been this season?
Alisson has been Roma's standout player and most consistent performer - having started 44 games out of 45 in all competitions and kept 20 clean sheets overall.
He caught the eye with a man-of-the-match performance on his Champions League debut against Atletico Madrid, pulling off nine saves to keep the score at 0-0 and secure a point which eventually proved vital in their group campaign.
He has been Brazil's first-choice goalkeeper for two-and-a-half years, and got to wear the captain's armband in a friendly against Russia in March - all-but confirming his starting place at the World Cup and forcing Manchester City's Ederson to play second fiddle.
What are his main strengths and weaknesses?
Big, brave and commanding, Alisson's main traits are his excellent positioning, shot-stopping abilities and cat-like reflexes. He thinks like a striker, tries to anticipate the play and is quick off his line, something he has improved on massively since his Internacional days.
Just like other Brazilian 'keepers, he displays great ball distribution and footwork - spraying passes wide to full-backs and fearlessly dummying strikers who put him under pressure in his own box.
It is difficult to point out any weakness. Standing at 6ft4ins, he is the perfect height for a goalkeeper and he commands his back line brilliantly, making him a modern all-round number one.
What have people said about him?
The Brazilian has received a lot of praise for obvious reasons. Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco has said he is "stunned by his presence and the calmness he brings to the entire team".
Former Tottenham defender Federico Fazio, now at Roma, said he gives the team a lot of confidence. "He's excellent," he told Roma TV. "Even last year - when he was only playing in the cup - I saw him train and work the hardest every day. I'm sure it is and it will be his year."
However, perhaps the biggest compliment came from Brazilian goalkeeping great Claudio Taffarel, who believes the 25-year-old is "technically better than Gianluigi Buffon" and has "the qualities to stay on top and become the best goalkeeper in the world, without a doubt".
Buffon himself, Alisson's idol, is also a big fan and said he's been following his Roma counterpart for two or three years. "He's a surprise only for those who haven't seen him play before," he told Italia Uno. "It strikes me how he deals with difficult situations so efficiently, and that gives the team a lot of confidence."
Are Liverpool his only suitors?
According to reports, a few European heavyweights have been keeping track of Alisson's performances, most notably Real Madrid, who are believed to be seeking a replacement for Keylor Navas in the summer.
Paris Saint-Germain are expected to be in the market for goalkeepers in the next transfer window, while Bayern Munich might also come knocking if Manuel Neuer's injury pans out to be more serious than expected.
His biggest admirers of all, however, are current club Roma. The Giallorossi are reportedly trying to persuade him to sign a new contract which could keep him in the Italian capital for a few more years.
What does his future hold?
Roma are confident that they will not lose Alisson just yet. His contract runs until June 2021 - and speaking to Sky in Italy after Roma's emphatic win against Barcelona, club president James Pallotta stressed that he has "no intention of selling him".
Alisson himself told Sky in Italy that he is happy in Rome, but admitted that "it's always a pleasure to know that big clubs are keeping an eye on you".
Roma value him at around £62m, according to Sky in Italy, which would be a world-record transfer fee for a goalkeeper. Even then, however, there is no guarantee that he could be prised away, with the revenue from Roma's run to the Champions League semi-final easing the Financial Fair Play concerns which previously threatened to force them to sell their best players.