Liverpool’s season could hinge on Alisson stand-in Adrian

first_imgIt’s funny how things work out in football.Ten days ago, Adrian was heading home. After six years in England, he was returning to Spain, ready to join Real Valladolid on a free transfer.Now, the 32-year-old is the man tasked with deputising for possibly the world’s best goalkeeper. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? On Wednesday, Adrian will make his first start for Liverpool. At the end of it, he could pick up his first medal as a professional. The Reds take on Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup in Istanbul looking to confirm their status as Europe’s No.1. They are big favourites to win at Besiktas’ Vodafone Park.What a remarkable turnaround for a man released by West Ham at the end of last season, a man who surely thought his chance at the top level had gone. Adrian last started a game in January, a 4-2 FA Cup defeat at AFC Wimbledon, but he could now face the most demanding run of his career. Alisson Becker’s misfortune, a calf injury that could sideline him for up to eight weeks, has opened the door for the Spaniard. His time is now.How Liverpool need him to hit the ground running. Before the end of August they will play league games against Southampton, Arsenal and Burnley, as well as the Super Cup final. Next month, they will begin their Champions League defence as well as looking to keep their Premier League campaign on track. Where Jurgen Klopp’s team is concerned, there is simply no let up.Alisson’s absence will hit them hard, no question. The Brazilian enjoyed a brilliant debut season on Merseyside following his £65 million ($79m) move from Roma in the summer of 2018. His 21 clean sheets in 38 games gave him the Premier League Golden Glove award, while his presence was key as Liverpool became European champions for the sixth time. In June’s final in Madrid, it was Alisson’s brilliance which kept Tottenham at bay.Big gloves to fill, then. Adrian Liverpool NorwichLiverpool had long identified Adrian as a potential signing. Their scouting team had tracked him at West Ham throughout the past two years, and moved swiftly once it became clear that Simon Mignolet would be leaving the club this summer. Mignolet completed a £6m ($8m) switch to Club Brugge following the Community Shield against Manchester City, and within hours Adrian was being unveiled at Melwood.“I come here to try to win everything,” he said in his first interview as a Liverpool player, “to try to push Ali from the first minute.” Clearly, he lacks little in terms of confidence.That is an important point. The life of a backup goalkeeper can be a strange one, one which requires huge reserves of toughness and mental strength. Mignolet, for example, earned major credit for his unerring professionalism, but even he found life difficult as understudy to Alisson (and before that Loris Karius). He trained intensely, prepared as normal but knew that he wouldn’t play. Last season he started just twice, in domestic cup ties with much-changed line-ups. Liverpool lost both games.“I wanted that feeling again,” Mignolet said following his debut for Brugge last week. “I wanted to be important again on the pitch.”Adrian will get that feeling again now. His Liverpool debut came quicker than anyone could have imagined but he says he was ready for it. He’d spent the bulk of his summer in Sevilla, training with his personal goalkeeping coach at local club UD Pilas.New colours…new city…new ambitions…Really happy to sign with @LFC 💪🏻🔴 #YNWA #LiverpoolFC #LFC — Adrián San Miguel (@AdriSanMiguel) August 5, 2019 Crucially, compared to Mignolet, he arrives as a goalkeeper with a reputation for being comfortable with his feet, as well as someone with an unshakeable self-belief. “He looked very good and very sharp from the first session he had with us,” said Klopp.“I like to help the team from the back,” Adrian says. “Obviously we need to save goals but now the modern ‘keeper has to be very complete. “I am still learning at my age, still learning and improving, but I think I have a great level to show and keep showing in the Premier League.”He may have racked up close to 300 games across his 14-year career, but the next six weeks will be Adrian’s biggest test to date. Liverpool fans will hope his confidence is not misplaced. Their season could hinge on him.   Subscribe to Goal’s Liverpool Correspondent Neil Jones’ weekly email bringing you the best Liverpool FC writing from around the weblast_img

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