Former Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones talks to Sport360's Matt Jones about Liverpool's new stopper Alisson, as well as his new life in Riyadh
It may be early days but goalkeeper Alisson could be the final piece of the jigsaw that finally hands Liverpool an elusive top-flight English league title in 29 years.
That is the opinion of former Reds stopper Brad Jones, who feels the new arrival from Roma will thrive at Anfield following his summer move from Serie A.
Liverpool are one of the most successful and popular clubs in English as well as world football, but they have not lifted the league crown since 1989/90.
They have been usurped as the kings of England by rivals Manchester United in the intervening years and found challenging for the domestic title an eternal struggle in the Premier League era – but Jones feels the new arrival from the Eternal City could be key.
“He’s Brazil’s number one, he’s played for Roma so he obviously has the pedigree and I think he’s someone that will excel there,” Jones said, speaking to Sport360 in Abu Dhabi last week.
“He’s obviously had a brilliant two years. He’s a big name that the fans demanded and it’s difficult when you come in to such a big club. They want big signings and I think he proved himself at the World Cup.”
It’s often said goalkeepers win you trophies. The men between the sticks were certainly key for past Premier League winners – Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar at the Red Devilas, David Seaman at Arsenal, Petr Cech and Thibaut Courtois at Chelsea and Joe Hart at Manchester City.
And even though Liverpool might be contending with a City side some critics already boldly consider to be the best side of the Premier League era, Jones feels Alisson can help Liverpool bridge the gap to Pep Guardiola’s record breakers.
“Time will tell,” added the veteran Australian, 36, who played 25 games in four seasons for Liverpool from 2011-15.
“He looks like he’s settled in well and the club speaks highly of him. You don’t want to put too much pressure on him, on just the one position, or say it’s the fault of the other keepers that it didn’t happen in the past.
“At the moment it’s something that’s a work in progress and he’s started well. Let’s hope he’s the last link to the puzzle.”
Jones, who spent the majority of his career in England and exclusively in Europe until this summer, was talking in very different surroundings at Al Jazira’s Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium last Monday where he is at the beginning of a new adventure with Saudi Arabia giants Al Nassr.
Jones, who moved to Riyadh following the expiration of his deal at Feyenoord earlier this month, played a part in Nassr’s 2-1 victory against Jazira that put the Saudi Premier League side in the driving seat for a place in the last 16 of the Arab Champions Club Cup.
He may have played in Europe exclusively up until this summer, but challenges are nothing new to Jones – he moved to Middlesbrough in 1999 from his native Australia – aged just 17.
And coming to the Kingdom is one he wanted to try before retirement.
“It was something new, you know,” said the Perth native, part of the Socceroos World Cup squad this summer in Russia.
“The offer came and it’s nice to experience something different and, coming to the tail end of my career, it’s an option that interested me and it’s a challenge. It’s a new challenge, a new experience and something I can talk about when I’m finished.”
Apart from getting used to the stifling Middle East heat, Jones is enjoying his new surroundings.
“It’s a bit different to Europe,” he joked, referring to the weather, having let an Ali Mabkhout shot spill out of his grasp, allowing Khalfan Mubarak to fire Jazira level after Nassr took a 1-0 lead in the capital.
“It’s so hot and humid and it’s obvious that it’s impossible to keep the tempo high and that’s the problem the national team face when they come here. It was in the end a good result in difficult conditions and that was obviously the main thing that we needed, the result.
“It’s been really good actually (settling in). The players have all taken to me and the staff have been really good. Riyadh’s been good so far and like I said, it’s something different and I’m enjoying the experience so far. It’s certainly a little bit different to Liverpool. A lot drier in Riyadh.”