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Alisson’s fitness & Ballon d’Or claims discussed by Liverpool’s goalkeeping coach

07:31 BST 23/08/2019
Alisson Liverpool 2018-19
John Achterberg is pleased with the progress being made by the Brazilian in his recovery from injury and has hailed the impact he has made at Anfield

Alisson is progressing well in his recovery from an untimely calf injury, says Liverpool’s goalkeeping coach John Achterberg, with the Brazilian still expected to return to action after the international break.

Initial fears regarding the Brazilian shot-stopper were eased after he broke down in a Premier League season opener against Norwich.

He was ruled out for weeks, not months, and has responded well to the rehabilitation programme he has been put on.

Achterberg told The Athletic: “Ali is good.

“He’s in every day for treatment and they try to improve things. He’s able to do some fitness work in the gym without using his leg. It’s difficult, but you have to try to look forward and be positive. You have to try to turn a negative into a positive.”

Achterberg added when pressed on a possible return date: “They haven’t given us a specific time he’ll be out as it’s difficult to say how quickly it will heal. That’s all with the medics. There’s an international break coming up and we’ll have to wait and see how long it takes after that.”

While Alisson is currently unavailable to Jurgen Klopp, he has made a positive impact at Anfield since arriving from Roma in the summer of 2018, with a Golden Glove award secured in his debut campaign.

Achterberg said of the £65 million ($79m) man: “At the start, you always think that a goalie needs time to settle a little bit.

“Playing for Liverpool is very difficult. A lot of people don’t want to give you time. But from day one, Ali was really there for us. He cost us one goal [at Leicester] finding out what was possible and not possible in terms of playing out from the back, but that’s what you expect.

“Look back in history at how many keepers came to England and were ready straight away. I can tell you Edwin van der Sar wasn’t when he started at Fulham, David de Gea definitely wasn’t at Manchester United because he struggled for more than a year. Fabien Barthez wasn’t either.

“It’s not easy, but Ali is very strong mentally and adapted really quick. Before, the crowd at Anfield was on edge a lot with the goalies but he changed that around.”

So impressive has Alisson been, there is now talk that he could join Reds team-mate Virgil van Dijk in the battle for the 2019 Ballon d’Or.

Achterberg added on such a big billing: “It’s difficult for a goalie to win that. You probably have to be on the scene and regarded as the best for a few years. Manuel Neuer had a period like that and he only got to third place.

“That’s what Ali has to strive for too. In my opinion he’s definitely been the best goalie out there over the past year.

“It’s about desire and mentality – wanting to be better than all the goalies in training, wanting to be better than the goalie you’re up against at the weekend.

“You have to set yourself targets. Get to five clean sheets as quickly as possible, then get to 10. What’s the record? If it’s 25, say you want 26. That’s how you keep yourself hungry and sharp in your own mind, on top of what we supply training-wise.”