Alisson Becker

(Brazil and Roma)

In a year Alisson has gone from Roma back-up goalkeeper to one of the best in the world, explains Richard Hall.

Roma will be represented in the World Cup most notably by Brazil’s spectacular goalkeeper Alisson Ramses Becker. The custodian has been notable for his incredible performances for the Giallorossi this term and has a character that matches his ability.

He spoke back in September claiming that he would have departed Rome if Wojciech Szczesny had not left for Juventus, as he was so sure that he should be the Number One. He has gone from being a man who only played in cup competitions the year before, to arguably one of the world’s best in no time at all.

There are countless matches this campaign that have shown off the 25-year-old’s talent, but arguably none more so than the Champions League opener against Atletico Madrid. Diego Simeone himself singled the opposition ‘keeper out for praise. The Argentinian heaped praise on the Brazilian (yes you heard me correctly) after he made some world class stops facing Saul and Koke, in particular. Now he takes this talent to Russia, as Brazil aim to once again challenge for the Wold Cup.

Alisson has come a long way in a short time. It was only back in 2016 that he signed from Internacional on a five-year deal for just €7.5m. In fairness he came with a good CV, winning the Campeonato Gaucho four times in a row, notching up 83 appearances. He arrived in Rome ready to take his career to the next level, but it wasn’t plain sailing. The aforementioned Szczesny was already making a name for himself between the posts and was in such good form that it eventually earned him a move to Juventus. This wasn’t known at the time, so the Brazilian was left to play in the cup competitions and he was struggling to adjust.

Firstly, the European defences (especially Roma’s) play a higher line than in South America and the ‘keeper found himself exposed, as his starting position was often not what it should have been. He adapted well and quickly, but Luciano Spalletti wasn’t sure, and this angered the Brazilian.

He did make mistakes that term, but his belief remained, and he was ready to move to complete his dream of playing for Brazil in the World Cup. He had competition, as Ederson had moved to Manchester City and at the time Atletico Paranaese’s Weverton was impressing. Valencia’s Diego Alves and Alex Muralha of Flamengo were also coming good.

When his opportunity came this season, the ‘keeper took it – aptly – with both hands. Eusebio Di Francesco trusted him, and he performed. His all-round ability shone as his self-proclaimed best asset, his reflexes, were shown off time after time. His ability to make a save, get back up and make another is something to behold and the command of his area and how he takes crosses is almost faultless. His distribution is exceptional and his shot stopping from distance rounds off an impressive arsenal.

Now in Russia, Brazil will be looking to him to continue this form in the same stable way. In a year when Brazil want to exorcise ghosts of the 7-1 result in 2014, they will only have to look back at Alisson to know that will not be happening this year.