This could be a season defining summer for Liverpool, with Ben McAleer now fancying the Reds' chances of usurping Manchester City as the Premier League's top team...
"The Reds were never going to mount a serious title challenge with Mignolet or Karius in goal; Alisson could prove to be the difference between contenders and winners"
The moment Gareth Bale's shot was inadvertently turned into his own net in the Champions League, the second of two cataclysmic errors in the final in Ukraine, Loris Karius must've feared for his Liverpool career. The mistakes may have been the result of a concussion following a collision with Sergio Ramos, yet the young German, who had ousted Simon Mignolet as the Reds' number one, will have considered the possibility that he would be dropped for the coming campaign.
Even after a summer of rest, Karius was at his error-prone worst as he committed another blunder in a pre-season 3-2 win over Tranmere Rovers. A little over a week later and Liverpool have had a world-record-for-a-goalkeeper £66.9m bid for Alisson accepted by Roma. The Brazilian, who wasn't overly effective at the World Cup, has been heavily linked with a move to Merseyside for some time now and it appears a deal is close to completion as Jurgen Klopp addresses another area of concern at Anfield.
Alisson a huge upgrade on Liverpool's current goalkeepers
Since Mignolet joined from Sunderland in 2013, goalkeeper has been a problematic position for the Reds and it's culminated in a move for Alisson, who was arguably the best goalkeeper in Serie A last season. Indeed, his save success rate (80.1%) was better than any other shotstopper in Italy's top tier last term as he provided a solid last line of defence. In a Roma side that deployed a high defensive line that was ultimately ruthlessly exposed by Liverpool in the Champions League, he thrived and it's this reason, among others, why should be a smooth transition for the goalkeeper as he gears up to make the switch from Italian to English football.
What's key, though, isn't just his goalkeeping ability, but rather the consistency of his performances between the sticks. Karius committed two glaring errors in the Champions League final, and totalled three in Europe's elite club competition last term, while Mignolet made two mistakes leading to an opposition goal across 19 Premier League appearances. By comparison, Alisson didn't commit a single error leading to a goal across 49 league or European outings for Roma last season.
It means Liverpool are having to spend a hefty amount to bolster their backline, but then so be it. The Reds were never going to mount a serious title challenge with Mignolet or Karius in goal; Alisson could prove to be the difference between contenders and winners. This is proving to be a mouth-watering summer for Liverpool fans, that goes without saying. With Naby Keita arriving, 12 months after supporters would have liked, Fabinho an upgrade on Jordan Henderson as the midfield anchor and Xherdan Shaqiri's transfer sewn up, not to mention reports of their continued interest in Lyon star Nabil Fekir, Klopp has been expensively assembling a squad that has the means to challenge Manchester City for top honours in England.
Can Liverpool pip Manchester City to the title?
Indeed, while City [1.81] are favourites to win the Premier League title in the coming campaign, Liverpool, [5.7], are second favourites to the defending champions on the Exchange. Those odds will only begin to shorten as and when the Reds wrap up the transfer of Alisson and potentially a deal for Fekir, too.
They'll need to learn to break teams that sit deep down, having dropped points against Burnley, West Brom and Swansea, to name three, last season, but in Shaqiri and possibly Fekir, Klopp'll have two attacking players to pry apart staunch defences at his disposal, something he lacked last season. With Fabinho protecting an improving backline and Keita able to provide lung-busting runs from deep, the midfield has been bolstered significantly, while Alisson's arrival, while not the final piece of puzzle, goes some way to completing the jigsaw.
Excitement levels are understandably rising at Anfield with the money raised by selling Coutinho to Barcelona being put to good use. The 3-1 reverse in Kyiv could have been considered the end of a cycle for Liverpool, but rather it seems to have been the beginning of a bigger and better era for the Reds. With the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Keita and Fabinho, among others, all enjoying a full pre-season, three of their big money signings this year will be fighting fight coming into the new season and they'll look to hit the ground running next month.
They've already gotten the better of Manchester City in their recent head-to-head meetings and if they can do so against the other 18 teams on a weekly basis, then Liverpool will fancy their chances of adding a 19th top-flight title to their trophy cabinet.