Thirty-three million pound sterling. That is the sum Juventus paid for the services of Gianluigi Buffon when he transferred from Parma way back in 2001. Naturally, that kind of fee for a goalkeeper was a record at the time, and in fact, had only been exceeded on three occasions, by world-class attackers Luís Figo, Hernán Crespo and Zinedine Zidane.
Such an aberration was Buffon’s price tag that it would take sixteen years before another goalkeeper commanded a higher fee, namely free-spending Manchester City’s £34.7m signing of Benfica’s Ederson in the transfer monsoon summer of 2017. The fact that it took so long boggles the mind further when taking inflation into account, as, in 2017 money, Buffon’s move to Turin would be worth somewhere between £118m and £138m. Ronaldo money! Bale money! Coutinho money!
And yet, no one would suggest Juve didn’t get their money’s worth. Now 40, Buffon remains a first team fixture for the reigning Serie A champions, having taken home eight scudettos and a World Cup gold medal to go with his four goalkeeper of the year awards and a European player of the year award. Money. Well. Spent.
Having established that getting the right goalkeeper can be worth as much to a club as getting the right striker can, and following the Summer of Neymar™, which saw transfer fees inflate to nigh-inconceivable levels yet again, one would expect Ederson’s record to be broken the first time of asking. And if Liverpool have any ideas of upgrading on the position with Roma’s Alisson, so does Roberto Negrisolo.
“Is Alisson worth €50million (£45m)? Don’t be silly, he’s worth far more than that,” Roma’s former goalkeeping coach told Il Romanista.
“I don’t think many people have realised who Alisson is. This guy is a phenomenon,” Negrisolo gushed. “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 mark an era.
“There is absolutely no comparison with Gianluigi Donnarumma, because Alisson is extraordinary. The way he behaves in the goal, he reminds me of Dino Zoff. I’d also compare him to Michel Preud-Homme, who had the class of someone born to be a goalkeeper.”
Woof! Messi and Zoff, all in one package. That is one hell of a sales pitch. And even if it were accurate and Alisson — who you’ll remember has half a season as a starter in a European top league on his record — was Dino Messi reborn, Roma aren’t exactly known to demand extortionate fees for their best players.
Having dropped out of the top 20 richest clubs in the world last year, the Italians were forced to sell their prime asset, Mohamed Salah for a mere £36.9m last summer, and with Champions League qualification looking to be a tough slog with Inter and a resurgent Lazio this season, the giallorossi may not be in a position to play hardball if the Reds come knocking in July.
Whether Jürgen Klopp is even interested in upgrading his goalkeeping options and what kind of money the club is willing and able to spend is still only speculation, of course, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see the club break another record when summer comes around.