Liverpool have learned Jürgen Klopp’s most important player and it might have been true all along

Jürgen Klopp has one of the most talented Liverpool sides that has ever been at his disposal, but he may just have got a reminder about his most important star.

Alisson Becker is an ever-present pillar of strength for Liverpool, and that has been the case since he signed for the Reds from AS Roma in 2018.

In fact, he started every single Premier League game for Jürgen Klopp last season, with the exception of the last fixture against Southampton, which meant nothing in terms of the team’s final standing.

The South American is always involved but last week, he picked up his first injury concern since 2021, with an apparent issue with his hamstring sustained against Manchester City.

Liverpool played their first league match without Alisson in goal against Fulham over the weekend, and it didn’t go particularly well.

The Reds managed to secure three valuable points, but all while conceding three goals in the process.

It was a memorable 4-3 win for Klopp’s outfit but with Alisson between the sticks, the home side simply looked easy to score against at times, with Caoimhín Kelleher appearing understandably rusty.

The Liverpool number two is a capable support act in the eyes of the manager. He’s previously labelled him as the best backup goalkeeper in the Premier League, but he rarely gets much of a chance to shine due to Alisson’s consistent presence as the club’s first-choice option.

Kelleher didn’t have to do a great deal against the Cottagers. Fulham accumulated a total of just nine shots compared to Liverpool’s 26, yet they scored on three occasions.

Of the five shots that hit the target, the Irishman only managed to save two of them, meaning Klopp’s start to life without Alisson wasn’t great.

It is unfair to compare the two given the difference in quality. One is commonly regarded as the best in the world, whereas the other is still growing as a talent.

Kelleher is 25 years old so he’s likely older than many supporters realise, but few peers on the continent can live up to Alisson’s standard.

Of the three goals that Fulham scored, it is reasonable to suggest that Kelleher should have saved two of them. The first two goals in particular looked saveable, certainly if Alisson had been facing them. Instead, Liverpool conceded, with those moments having a dramatic impact on the course of the game.

Football is a low-scoring sport, which is why goalkeepers are so valuable. They don’t have a massive impact on performances, but when it comes to results, their contributions are huge.

Ian Graham, who left his role as Liverpool’s director of research in the summer, has previously stated that goalkeepers are undervalued.

That perhaps explains why former sporting director Michael Edwards dedicated a record-breaking transfer fee to Alisson’s signature around five-and-a-half years ago.

The Reds broke the bank to bring in the Brazilian international and since, they have won everything there is to win. He only tends to get the accolades as the team’s most important player when the defense is giving up lots of chances, but maybe it’s been true all along.

Alisson’s ability to save shots is unrivalled in England, as proved by the numbers. Since his debut in the Premier League, he’s faced a total of 589 shots on target, and those have been worth roughly 170.7 expected goals. In reality, however, he’s conceded just 150 times, excluding own goals.

That equates to an overperformance above average of around 20 goals. For context, Manchester City’s Ederson has conceded largely in line with expectation at the Etihad, conceding 172 goals from 168.8 expected goals since moving from Portugal to England in 2017.

Kelleher has big boots to fill. His task is virtually impossible, in fact, and his start against Fulham suggests that Liverpool could be set to navigate a nervous couple of weeks as Alisson attempts to make a comeback before Christmas.



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