‘The Messi of goalkeepers!’ – £65m superstar Alisson makes Liverpool title challengers

Alisson Becker doesn’t make many mistakes. However, shortly after joining Roma, he appeared on a Brazilian talk show and was asked if he had learned any Italian swear words. 

“I said some terrible things without realising how bad they were,” the goalkeeper admitted. “Once I did know, it was too late!”

Alisson would have been forgiven for relying almost exclusively on swear words during his first, frustrating year in the Italian capital. 

Despite his arrival from childhood club Internacional in 2016 as Brazil’s first-choice goalkeeper, then Roma coach Luciano Spalletti stuck with Wojciech Szczesny as his No.1. 

That would have irked many goalkeepers. Alisson, though, preferred to look on the bright side.

“It did feel a little lonely at first, but then I got to spend more time with my wife,” he explained. “She was pregnant and so I got to focus less on my career.

“I worked hard in training and learned a lot alongside a great goalkeeper like Szczesny.”

Restricted only to appearances in the cup competitions, Alisson’s lack of game time became a major talking point in Brazil, with many pundits arguing that Ederson should be the Selecao’s No.1. 

Alisson, though, never let Brazil down, conceding just three goals in 11 appearances in the World Cup qualifiers under new coach Tite. As a result, he never felt compelled to go running to either Spalletti or the press to complain about his situation at the Stadio Olimpico.

“I wasn’t playing much due to the coach’s decision but I am a calm boy and I don’t like talking,” he confessed. “I didn’t feel comfortable going to him and saying things because he chose to have two high-level keepers and he played me in the cups.

“He used meritocracy because Szczesny had done well during the first year but let’s say that I learned to have a bit of patience.”

However, Alisson knew that with a World Cup year approaching, he needed to be playing regular league football to fend off the intense competition he was under for his Selecao shirt from Manchester City ace Ederson.

Consequently, he seriously considered a move elsewhere until it emerged that Szczesny was off to Juventus last season.

“I didn’t want to leave, but I would have had to think of myself and my targets,” he reasoned. “Nobody in Brazil, in a World Cup year, has a guaranteed place.”

Alisson Messi PS

Despite Ederson’s excellence in England, there was never any danger of Alisson losing his place in Brazil’s starting line-up for Russia 2018. He wasn’t just the best goalkeeper in Italy last season; he was the best in the world. 

Spalletti’s successor, Eusebio Di Francesco, knew from the moment he first saw Alisson in action at Trigoria last summer that he was something special.

“I was stunned by his presence and the calmness he brought to the entire team,” he enthused. 

Alisson vindicated his new coach’s faith in him by playing a pivotal part in Roma’s remarkable 2017-18 campaign, which saw the Giallorossi  finish third in Serie A and, even more impressively, reach the semi-finals of the Champions League.

Indeed, Alisson made a whopping 155 saves in all competitions last season – only overworked Verona goalkeeper Nicolas made more across Europe’s big-five leagues. The Brazilian also boasted the third-best save percentage (79.26) across the continent, just below those of Manchester United No.1 David De Gea (80.28%) and Jan Oblak (82.68%). 

However, his distribution stats were of greater significance, as Alisson has always been a fine shot-stopper. When he first broke into the Brazil squad, the one major criticism levelled at him was that he was poor with the ball at his feet.
 
Last term, no goalkeeper completed more sweeper-keepings (51) in all competitions, while only Gianluigi Donnarumma (1135) racked up more successful passes than Alisson (1125). 

Alisson Karius Stats PS

In essence, he is now the modern goalkeeper that Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was hoping Loris Karius would develop into. 

The pair do share one thing in common, in that both have previously attracted attention for their good looks. Alisson, ‘ O Goleiro Gato ’ (‘The Handsome Goalkeeper’) as he is known in Brazil, proved so popular with the ladies back home that his wife once had to show off her own goalkeeping skills.

“We had just won the title and went to a restaurant to celebrate with other team-mates and their families,” he revealed. “There were many fans outside the entrance and some of the girls grabbed my backside: my wife was parrying everyone’s hands!”

Eventually, though, it was Europe’s top clubs who tried to get their hands on Alisson not only because of his ability, but also his composure and presence.

But it was Liverpool who won the race for the Brazilian, completing a record £65m move for the 25-year-old. Whereas Karius has never instilled confidence in those around him at Anfield, Alisson exudes self-belief. 

“The way he behaves in the goal, he reminds me of Dino Zoff,” enthused former Roma coach Roberto Negrisolo. “I’d also compare him to Michel Preud-Homme, who had the class of someone born to be a goalkeeper.

“I told Alisson when I met him at Roma’s Trigoria ground that he was born for this. He was already strong when he arrived, but has improved even more since he has been in Italy.”

This is a self-confessed perfectionist who works tirelessly to eradicate every perceived flaw in his game in order to become the very best goalkeeper he can be and, as he underlined with expletive-laden appearance on Brazilian TV, he is a pretty fast learner.

At 25, he only going to get better and, as Ederson proved after succeeding Claudio Bravo as Manchester City’s No.1 last season, signing a great goalkeeper can be the difference between a top-four finish and winning the title. Signing Alisson could be that decisive a move for Liverpool.

The fee is a record for a goalkeeper but, as Negrisolo reasoned, “I don’t think many people have realised who Alisson is. This guy is a phenomenon. He is the number one of number ones.

“He is the Messi of goalkeepers, because he has the same mentality as Messi. He is a goalkeeper who can define an era.”

If he doesn’t do so at Anfield, it will be Klopp turning the air blue with swear words.

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Toronto FC suspends all supporters groups after fans set fire to stadium in Ottawa

Toronto FC has suspended all of its supporters groups indefinitely after fans set fire to TD Place Stadium in Ottawa on Wednesday night. 

In the second half of TFC’s Canadian Championship semifinal first leg against the Ottawa Fury, a fire broke out in the away fans’ section. 

The match had to be delayed as flares and fireworks led to a fire in the stands that eventually made its way onto the pitch. 

Security guards were forced to extinguish the fires, with no injuries reported.

After the game, the Fury release a statement saying that TFC fans had illegally smuggled fireworks into the stadium, and that the perpetrators had been ejected. 

The Fury even said that the Ottawa police and fire department had to be dispatched to the stadium because of the incident. 

There were more repercussions to come on Thursday, as Toronto FC president Bill Manning announced the suspension of all his team’s supporters groups. 

“The safety of our fans, employees and supporters is the highest priority for TFC,” Manning said in a club release.

“The events which took place in Ottawa last night involving TFC supporters were unacceptable and needlessly put the safety of others at risk.

“Due to the seriousness of this incident we are left with no choice but to suspend all recognized supporter group privileges indefinitely as we conduct a thorough review of TFC’s recognized supporter program.

“We are fully cooperating with the Ottawa Police Department as they investigate this incident and work to identify those responsible.”

Toronto FC won Wednesday’s match 1-0, with the second leg set for next Wednesday in Toronto.

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Real Madrid farewell? Navas posts cryptic message amid Courtois links

As Real Madrid prepare a swoop for Chelsea star Thibaut Courtois, Keylor Navas finds himself in a familiar, uncertain situation.

Ever since the goalkeeper succeeded Iker Casillas as Madrid’s No.1, his place has been on a shaky peg as the club have constantly been linked to bigger names.

The Costa Rica international saw off the near-signing of David de Gea from Manchester United and went on to play a key role in their incredible run of three straight Champions League titles.

Despite his latest success with Los Blancos and their signing of Andriy Lunin from Zorya, Madrid are hoping to strengthen even further by luring Courtois, though they will have to wait a while.

And the Belgian’s winks to the Spanish giants have only enhanced expectation that he is heading for the Santiago Bernabeu, putting Navas’ place in further doubt.

On Thursday, Navas made an unusual post on Instagram that could be a hint that he is saying farewell to Madrid fans after four years there.

The 31-year-old shared a video that showed the club lifting the three Champions League trophies followed by a display of all of the trophies he has won since joining from Levante in 2014.

 

#HalaMadrid

Een bericht gedeeld door Keylor Navas Gamboa (@keylornavas1) op

If it is not a cryptic farewell message to supporters, it could be a reminder to new coach Julen Lopetegui and the club’s hierarchy that he has shown his worth after 141 appearances.

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Spain taxes chased Ronaldo away from Real Madrid, says Tebas

Spain’s high tax rate was a contributing factor in Cristiano Ronaldo’s decision to join Juventus, according to La Liga president Javier Tebas.

Ronaldo ended his nine-year association with Real Madrid when he agreed a switch to the Serie A champions worth €112 million (£100m/$130m), signing a four-year contract.

The Portuguese forward released a statement via Madrid’s website to explain his reason for requesting to leave, citing the need for a “new cycle” at this stage in his career.

However, Tebas believes the move was also partially motivated by money, noting that the player will able to earn more in Italy.

“He’ll earn more money than here,” Tebas told Marca TV.

“I think that fiscally it favours him to go to Italy. Here, in Spain, we have a problem with fiscal competition.

“Out of the biggest leagues, Spain is where the players have the worst tax situation.

“It’s not that elsewhere the rate is so much lower, but when you’re earning significant sums then these little differences in rates translate to a lot of money for the players.”

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner and Madrid’s all-time leading scorer’s issues with the Spanish tax authority in recent years was said to be a factor in his desire to leave the capital, as he suggested last year that he wanted to return to England because of the charges.

Ronaldo faced a minor prison sentence and a large fine if found guilty, but denied the allegations of fraud as he appeared in court last year to declare: “I always pay what I have to pay; I do things the right way and I will continue to do so.”

After repeating his desire to leave Madrid after their recent Champions League final win, he agreed to pay a sum of €18.8 million (£16m/$22m) to bring an end to the case and later completed the switch to the Serie A champions.

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Transfer news & rumours LIVE: Man City consider selling Sterling amid stall in contract talks


Man City consider Sterling sale amid stall in talks


Manchester City will sell Raheem Sterling next summer if he does not sign a new contract, according to The Mirror.

The England international delayed talks with the club until after the World Cup in the hope that his value would rise and give him reason to demand higher wages.

However, City are standing firm on what they are offering and are ready to put Sterling up for sale if there is no agreement by the end of the season. 


Courtois & Hazard lead €300m Madrid wishlist


Chelsea duo Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois are at the top of a four-man, €300 million (£267m/$350m) wishlist at Real Madrid, claims Don Balon .

The pair are long-term targets of president Florentino Perez, who is looking to rebuild Madrid following the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus. 

Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic and Milan centre-back Leonardo Bonucci complete the quartet that would strengthen new coach Julen Lopetegui’s squad.


Leicester open £12m Ward talks


Leicester City have opened talks with Liverpool about signing goalkeeper Danny Ward for £12 million ($15.5m).

Ward will be allowed leave Anfield as the Reds close in on Brazil goalkeeper Alisson, who will break the transfer record for a goalkeeper to join Liverpool.

Read the full story on Goal!


Luis Enrique wants Laporte switch


New Spain head coach Luis Enrique wants Aymeric Laporte to switch international allegiance to Spain, according to Mundo Deportivo .

The Manchester City defender has played for France to Under-21 level, but has never been capped by the senior side, meaning he can change nationalities.

With Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique both in their 30s, Luis Enrique is looking for new blood at centre-back and sees the 24-year-old as an ideal addition.


Barca & Man City offered Ajax warning


Barcelona, Manchester City and Bayern Munich have been advised to not waste their time lodging bids for Ajax starlets Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt and Donny van de Beek.

Sporting director Marc Overmars has told De Telegraaf: “Frenkie de Jong, Donny van de Beek and Matthijs de Ligt are not for sale as far as we are concerned. Not even for an insane amount.”

Check out the full story on Goal!


Thiago hoping for Barcelona return


Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago would rather re-join Barcelona than sign for Manchester United, AS reports.

The Spain international could be set to leave the Allianz Arena this summer and is interested in returning to his former club.

Thiago left Barca for Bayern to work under Pep Guardiola in 2013, but is not seen as a key part of new Munich coach Niko Kovac’s plans for the coming season.


Everton eyeing Chelsea duo


Everton are preparing to ask Chelsea about possible loan deals for Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Michy Batshuayi, reports the Mirror.

Both men spent time away from Stamford Bridge last season after finding regular first team football hard to come by.


‘Alisson a flawless signing for Liverpool’


Alisson is a goalkeeper with no flaws, according to Liverpool legend Steve Nicol, with the Brazil international a shrewd addition at £67 million ($86m).

Goal revealed on Wednesday that the Reds had agreed a fee with Roma for a long-standing target .

Check out what a former Anfield star has had to say on the deal here.


Courtois deal rests on Chelsea cover


Thibaut Courtois’s transfer from Chelsea to Real Madrid has stalled, but only temporarily.

With Liverpool and Roma reaching an agreement on the £67 million ($87m) transfer of goalkeeper Alisson, Chelsea now have to look elsewhere to find a replacement number one and will keep the Blancos waiting as they carry out that search.

Read the full story on Goal!


Sporting CP want Leicester’s Slimani


Sporting CP are looking to end Islam Slimani’s difficult spell at Leicester City as they hope to bring the Algeria international back to Portugal, according to the Sun .

Slimani has scored just eight Premier League goals for the Foxes since moving from Sporting in 2016, and even spent some of last season on loan at Newcastle to try to get more first-team action.

Sporting are looking to replace top scorer Bas Dost, who cancelled his contract this summer and is currently a free agent.


USMNT keeper closes in on Bristol City move


U.S. national team goalkeeper Zack Steffen is set to join Championship club Bristol City from Major League Soccer side Columbus Crew.

The Robins are currently trying to negotiate a fee with the American club, having already made a $3.9 million (£3m) bid for the 23-year-old. Steffen made his USMNT debut in May and has since played three times for his country.

Read the full story on Goal!


Man Utd eye Lewandowski & Thiago


Manchester United are considering a double swoop for Bayern Munich stars Robert Lewandowski and Thiago Alcantara,  The Independent   reports.

The pair have been linked with moves away from the Bundesliga side, while United are said to be courting a new midfielder.

The Red Devils tried to lure Thiago to Old Trafford before he joined Bayern from Barcelona and Jose Mourinho had shown an interest in Lewandowski at Chelsea and Real Madrid.


Bonucci’s agent meets with PSG


Leonardo Bonucci’s agent has met with representatives of Paris Saint-Germain over a transfer, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

The 31-year-old defender only joined AC Milan last summer, but could be on his way out as the San Siro club deals with financial difficulties. 

The economics of a deal would not be a problem for the French side, and Bonucci wants to wait until the weekend to make a decision.


Chelsea could move for Donnarumma


Chelsea could move for AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma after missing out on Alisson, reports Alfredo Pedulla.

Roma goalkeeper Alisson is set to join Liverpool in a £66 million ($86m) deal,  leaving the Blues in need of a replacement if Thibaut Courtois joins Real Madrid. 

Before allowing Courtois to leave the Blues want to have a replacement confirmed, and the 19-year-old is seen as a top option. 


Tottenham in talks over Grealish


Tottenham are in talks to sign Aston Villa star Jack Grealish, according to Sky Sports News.

The 22-year-old starred for Villa last season, taking the club to the Championship play-off final, where they fell to Fulham. 

With Villa falling short of the Premier League the club will likely be forced to sell Grealish, who is valued at between £30m and £40m ($39m and $52m).


Man City monitor Under


Manchester City are keeping an eye on Roma star Cengiz Under, according to Calciomercato.com.

The 21-year-old joined Roma from Basaksehir last summer and netted eight goals in 32 appearances in his first season at the Stadio Olimpico. 

City aren’t expected to make a bid this summer, but could return for the Turkey international if he continues his ascent. 


Roma agree terms with Areola 


Roma have agreed a contract worth €3 million per season with PSG goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, according to Corriere dello Sport.

With Alisson nearing a Liverpool move the Serie A side have identified the 25-year-old as his replacement, and now must agree to a fee with the Ligue 1 champions. 

PSG is demanding €30m (£27m/$35m) for Areola, and Roma are hoping to lower that figure to €25m (£22m/$29m).


Emery lines up more Arsenal transfers


Arsenal manager Unai Emery is keen to bring in two more players before the end of the transfer window, but the north London side will have to sell players first in order to raise funds.

The Gunners have already secured the services of Bernd Leno, Lucas Torreira, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Matteo Guendouzi in recent weeks and Emery remains keen to add to his squad.

Arsenal had a £70 million ($91m) budget heading into the transfer window, however, and will have to sell before making any additional signings.

Read the full story on Goal!


Everton contact Januzaj


Everton have made contact with Real Sociedad midfielder Adnan Januzaj over a potential move, according to  Het Nieuwsblad.

The 23-year-old made Premier League clubs take notice with his fantastic goal at the World Cup against England in an otherwise low-key group stage clash. 

Januzaj has plenty of familiarity with the English top flight, having played for Manchester United and Sunderland earlier in his career. 


Zinchenko to leave Man City


Oleksandr Zinchenko is expected to leave Manchester City this summer, according to Sky Sports News. 

Though he has joined City on their summer tour of the United States, the 21-year-old, who can play left-back or in midfield, is still likely to depart. 

Wolves have registered a bid of £16 million ($21m) for the Ukraine international, with Fulham also believed to be interested. 


Atletico waiting for Sporting answer on Martins


Atletico Madrid are waiting on Sporting CP to accept their offer of €15 million (£13m/$17m) plus €10m (£9m/$12m) in add-ons for Gelson Martins, reports AS

Martins unilaterally cancelled his contract with the Portuguese side due to the volatile situation at the club. 

Atletico will await a decision from FIFA should Sporting not accept their offer for the 23-year-old winger. 


Arsenal to sign Barcelona teenager


Arsenal are set to announce a deal for Barcelona left-back Joel Lopez, according to Evening Standard.

Lopez is expected to sign a youth deal with the Gunners, before he signs a professional contract when he turns 17 in March. 


Liverpool agree £66m fee for Alisson


Liverpool are closing in on the signing of Alisson after agreeing a £66 million ($86m) fee with Roma for the Brazilian goalkeeper,  Goal  can confirm.

The Reds have been in intensive talks with the Serie A club this week, and now have permission to speak to the player about a move to Anfield.

The deal would make the 25-year-old the most expensive goalkeeper in history.

Read the full story on Goal!


Chelsea near deal for Rugani


Chelsea representative Fali Ramadani met with Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici on Wednesday to discuss a deal for centre-back Daniele Rugani,  Goal understands. 

The talks in Milan are understood to have gone well, with the 23-year-old defender nearing a move to Stamford Bridge. 

Chelsea are thought to be offering €40 million (£36m/$47m) for Rugani’s services, while Juventus are holding out for €50m (£45m/$58m).

Read the full story on Goal!

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