“When I signed for Liverpool I knew I was coming for a big challenge in my career and I think the competition makes us better. So to have two no.1s in the team is great for both of us. It’s a good decision for the manager because everyone wants to have the best and I think we are here – two no.1s.”
These were the words of Adrian before Liverpool’s clash against arch-rivals Manchester United in the Premier League in October last year, with the Reds’ first-choice goalkeeper, Alisson poised to make a return to the playing XI following his calf injury. Adrian’s words, which were more of a self-praise, were a bit exaggerated.
In 11 Premier League appearances this season, Adrian, who joined Liverpool on a free transfer last summer, replacing the outgoing Simon Mignolet, has conceded 10 goals while managing just two clean sheets.
Winning run at the start of the season
Adrian made his debut for Liverpool during their opening day win over Norwich City in the Premier League on 9th August; the Spaniard replaced the injured Alisson in the 39th minute at Anfield. Following his performance in Liverpool’s penalty shootout victory over Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup just five days later, it felt the Merseyside giants had a great back-up custodian in their ranks.
The 33-year-old’s saves at crucial moments in the Premier League helped Liverpool win their first eight league matches. Although the Reds lost 2-0 against Napoli and conceded thrice against RB Salzburg in the UEFA Champions League, Adrian’s performances were decent, considering he had Alisson’s big shoes to fill in.
The Brazilian had set the bar high by helping the Reds win the Champions League last season. In addition, Liverpool also had the best defensive record in the Premier League in 2018-19, conceding just 22 times.
Adrian has to be given some credit for Liverpool’s current position in the Premier League as his performances in goal were satisfactory. But he was always considered to be good back-up option, but not someone who could challenge Alisson.
Sporadic appearances after Alisson’s return and blunders against Chelsea and Atletico Madrid
After Alisson returned to action, Adrian was given chances sporadically. But he didn’t quite impress, managing just one clean sheet in seven appearances for Liverpool since mid-October. Overall, Adrian has conceded 0.9 goals per game with a save percentage of 64 in the Premier League. The numbers are average but look far inferior in front of Alisson’s stats, with the Brazilian conceding 0.6 goals per game and having a shot saving percentage of 80.
Alisson had another injury set back when he picked up a hip problem in training before the FA Cup clash against Chelsea in early March. As a result, he was ruled out of Liverpool’s crucial Round of 16 second leg clash against Atletico Madrid on 11th March.
Adrian started against Chelsea and made a costly mistake which led to Willian’s opening goal at Stamford Bridge as the Blues won 2-0, thereby eliminating the Reds from the domestic competition.
In the game against Atletico Madrid, Liverpool won the match 1-0 in regular time and took the game to extra-time as the Spanish outfit won the first leg by the same margin. But Adrian’s major blunder in clearance led to Marcos Llorente equalizing on aggregate for the visitors after Roberto Firmino put Liverpool in front just four minutes into extra-time.
Atletico Madrid pumped in two more goals at Anfield in the second half of extra-time as defending champions Liverpool were knocked out of the Champions League.
Adrian’s future at Liverpool
When the Premier League resumes after the coronavirus-enforced break, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for Adrian at Liverpool.
The Spaniard’s performances have been underwhelming, to say the least, and with Loris Karius’ loan deal at Besiktas cut short and Trabzonspor’s Ugurcan Cakir being linked with a move to Anfield, it will be interesting to see if Jurgen Klopp keeps his faith in Adrian.
But given the present circumstances, it looks highly unlikely that Adrian will be Liverpool’s second-choice goalkeeper at the start of 2020-21 season.