Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson has said that he has reached the peak of his game by being able to play the best players in the world, pinpointing Lionel Messi of Barcelona as a star he especially appreciates.
Both men were honoured at the Ballon d’Or awards earlier this week, with Alisson winning the Yashin Trophy for being the best goalkeeper and Messi being coronated as the game’s greatest individual in a calendar year for the sixth time.
The pair went face-to-face in the Champions League semi-finals last season, and though it was the Reds who ultimately came out on top with a thrilling second-leg comeback at Anfield, the 27-year-old says that the Argentine – and players of similar quality – have spurred him on to excel.
“When we play with, and against the best, we can only progress. And Messi helped me a lot!” he told France Football. “Against him, I experienced some of my best footballing memories.”
Meanwhile, he also considered some of the game’s finest contemporary goalkeepers, notably compatriot Ederson, who is a rival at Manchester City.
"We have always been in competition to be the best,” he said. “But the luck I’ve had with him is to have him as a big brother. I never considered him a rival but as a support. Sometimes I do not have words to say what he means to me.”
Indeed, throughout his career, Ederson has faced stern competition, from Dida at Internacional when he was a youngster through to his Roma days, where he was pushed to the bench by Wojciech Szczesny.
“I've always had some great competition! I believe that God has put these great players in my path so that I can become better every day,” he said.
Allison and his Liverpool team-mates host Everton in the Premier League on Wednesday as they go chasing a 14th win in 15 league outings this season.
Jurgen Klopp’s side currently hold an eight-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the standings, having played a game less, with Alisson having kept two clean sheets in the seven outings that he has had.