ANALYSIS - Raisa Simplicio & Rupert Fryer
On Friday coach Brazil coach Tite will sit down at CBF headquarters to announce his first squad since World Cup 2018, ahead of a Brasil Global Tour double-header which will see them face USA and El Salvador next month.
And the 25-year-old is now focusing on writing history at one of world football’s most storied clubs; and his reign is sure to last longer than the few weeks it took to see Spanish goalkeeper Kepa eclipse that world-record fee.
How long, though, will Alisson’s Brazil reign last? Just across England’s M62 motorway in Manchester, of course, stands his team-mate and challenger, Ederson.
The Manchester City custodian was continually singled out last term as perhaps the best in the world but so too was Alisson, who has repeatedly welcomed the competition. “Tite has a big problem!” joked Alisson last year. And it’s one every coach would relish, and so too most first-class professionals.
Former Internacional goalkeeper Alisson has been his country’s no.1 for almost three years since replacing Jeferson, notably retaining his place in the Selecao goal even when he wasn’t seeing any action for Roma in the 2016-17 season.
His remarkable consistency has been the key. Brazilian football has had its fair share of goalkeeping catastrophes, but it’s safe to say Alisson has never let his country down. And he is already making an impression on his new team-mates in Merseyside.
“We speak a lot. He's very vocal and that helps. It helps me and everyone in the back line. I think his presence is very good as well,” said defender Virgil van Dijk this week. "He has a lot of qualities on the ball that helps get us playing.”
Ederson has been labelled the world’s best with the ball at his feet, but now Alisson is showing he too has the ability to build attacks from the back and play a significant role in his side retaining possession – something Tite has preached since his arrival as Brazil coach in June 2016.
Alisson, then, clearly remains ahead of Ederson in the pecking order, but some back home have suggested that this season the battle will become closer than ever. With both now sharing a stage in England, keeping goal for arguably the country’s two strongest teams going into the Premier League season, the race is on.
Ederson immediately joined the conversation of the game’s elite goalkeepers following his switch to Manchester in in June 2017 but, despite his brilliant form over the course of last season, he still has just one international cap to his name – keeping a clean sheet in an October 2017 qualifier against Chile after the Selecao’s place in Russia was already confirmed.
The 24-year-old former Benfica man, though, has ousted a Selecao no.1 before. He was given a chance in Lisbon only after an injury to Julio Cesar. Ederson kept a clean sheet that day as his side wont the derby against Sporting and he won a place in the side he would never relinquish.
Since arriving at City, he has shown a constant evolution under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola and some suggest he should have been given more chances to impress with Brazil.
However, they would never come. Brazil’s goalkeeping coach Taffarel has been vital to Alisson’s journey to the top of his profession, keeping in constant communication with the player during that tricky season in Rome, and neither he nor Tite appear to see any reason to make a change.
A change may yet come, of course, and if it does then it will arrive due to what we see in this season’s Premier League, where two of the world’s finest goalkeepers will compete under two of the world’s finest coaches in the hope of being Tite’s no.1 at next year’s Copa America in Brazil.
Brazil return to action next month as the Brazil Global Tour returns with the Selecao to meet USA at MetLife Stadium on September 7 before hosting El Salvador at FedExField on September 11.