Before the start of the 2018/19 season, only one man had a case to be regarded as Liverpool’s greatest goalkeeper of the Premier League era.
The list is not terribly long and hardly packed with world-class talent. However, for the first five years of his career at Anfield, Pepe Reina was one of the very best goalkeepers in the world and the finest for Liverpool between the posts since Ray Clemence.
Alongside Clemence, Elisha Scott and arguably Bruce Grobbelar, Reina is one of Liverpool’s greatest ever goalkeepers across the club’s entire history, let alone during the Premier League period.
Step forward, Alisson
Now, do we have another to add to this list?
He may have only just completed his debut season, but Alisson has to be regarded as one of Liverpool’s best goalkeepers in Premier League history.
The Brazilian did not come cheap, with Liverpool paying the second most expensive fee ever for a goalkeeper to sign him from Roma, a world-record fee at the time (beaten very quickly by Chelsea’s capture of Kepa Arrizabalaga).
Yet the 26-year-old has again been worth every penny with his displays this season. In the Premier League, Alisson won the Golden Glove ahead of Manchester City’s title-winning keeper, Ederson, with 21 clean sheets in total, and 27 across all competitions, a testament both to his talents and how far Liverpool’s defence has improved in the past eighteen months.
Napoli save crucial to Champions League triumph
In the Champions League, Liverpool would not have tasted success in the competition for a sixth time if it had not been for their new goalkeeper.
Right at the death of the group stages, Liverpool looked set for an early exit from Europe’s elite when Arkadiusz Milik had the majority of the goal to aim at in added time and send Napoli through to the knockout stages at Liverpool’s expense.
Only for Alisson to make himself big, and pull off a brilliant save that, actually, did not look ridiculously good because of his fantastic positioning and concentration, having had little to do for the majority of the match.
Liverpool won 1-0, progressed to the last sixteen and the rest is now history.
Yet even when Tottenham Hotspur were beginning to create a small amount of momentum in the second half of the Champions League final, Alisson was always there to mop up with no fuss – a complete contrast to the nightmare Loris Karius suffered in the 2018 Champions League final against Real Madrid.
Alisson is another example of Liverpool’s fantastic talent of finding value for money, even with big-money buys such as Liverpool’s new number one and Virgil van Dijk. Michael Edwards’ recruitment and Jürgen Klopp’s management of players has re-established Liverpool’s as one of the world’s leading sides and the current Champions of Europe.
Reina or Alisson?
Reina joined Liverpool when they had just been crowned European champions for a fifth time, following the legendary 2005 final in Istanbul. In fact, the 37-year-old Spaniard has been linked with a return to the club as the number two to Alisson – always just as the Reds have won the European Cup eh Pepe?
But is Reina number two to Alisson overall in Liverpool’s history?
Alisson is the more complete goalkeeper, with a commanding presence, strong, reliable hands, brilliant distribution and fantastic positioning and concentration. Reina was susceptible in the air at times, with his ability to deal with crosses inconsistent, but otherwise, his attributes were similar to Alisson’s now for Liverpool.
Moreover, Reina’s consistency across years with the club established his reputation as one of Liverpool’s best. The Spaniard won three straight Golden Glove awards, previously holding Liverpool’s record for clean sheets in a season prior to Alisson this season, and was involved in vital success moments for Liverpool under Rafael Benítez.
Including the penalty shootouts in the 2006 FA Cup final against West Ham United and 2007 Champions League semi-final against Chelsea.
Reina only won two trophies with the Reds, the 2006 FA Cup and 2012 League Cup, but was part of a brilliant Liverpool side under Benitez in the late 2000s as they challenged the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Reina declined in the 2010s, but so did Liverpool’s defence and the team as a whole, while the managers enjoyed mixed fortunes as well between Benítez and Klopp.
Alisson has the talent and the chance of further trophies to surpass Reina in Liverpool’s goalkeeping annals but for now, the Spaniard still holds sway, just.