Neymar deal led to record GK fees – Schmeichel
Leicester City’s Kasper Schmeichel has told ESPN he believes this summer of record-breaking transfer fees for goalkeepers reflects how important the position has become for title-chasing clubs, and thinks that Paris Saint-Germain’s €222m signing of Neymar last summer has sparked the surge in prices for top No. 1s.
Liverpool paid the largest ever amount for a goalkeeper to sign Brazil international Alisson from Roma for £67m earlier this summer, a fee which is set to be eclipsed by Chelsea to bring in Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao before Thursday’s transfer deadline.
Schmeichel, speaking ahead of Friday night’s Premier League season-opening match against Manchester United at Old Trafford, thinks that Neymar’s world-record move to PSG last summer has led to top goalkeepers costing so much now.
“I think generally transfers are ridiculously high at the moment,” Schmeichel said before it was confirmed that Kepa’s €80m release clause had been paid. “It was only a matter of time before goalkeepers would get in on the act, because a good goalkeeper can be the difference between winning the league and not winning the league.
“That’s the market at the moment. I think the Neymar transfer was pivotal to everything. Prices became very inflated and from there it was always going to reach every position. You saw it with Virgil van Dijk [defender who joined Liverpool from Southampton for £75m in January] and now with Alisson — the market value has really gone up high.”
Leicester host Liverpool in their fourth Premier League match of the season on Sept. 1, and Schmeichel thinks the arrival of Alisson as Liverpool’s clear first-choice well benefit Jurgen Klopp’s side.
“I think he’ll bring some stability,” he said. “Liverpool have chopped and changed a lot with their goalkeepers. They’ve been crying out for a little bit of stability where the manager will choose one man, instead of every keeper being nervous to make a mistake because they know if they make a mistake then they’ll be out for the next game.
“Goalkeepers need to have some stability, some certainty and some freedom to make mistakes knowing that you’re not going to have to pay the consequences, other than conceding a goal. Alisson is a top-class goalkeeper, from what I’ve seen. He performed brilliantly for Roma, and for Brazil as well. To be able to keep out a goalkeeper like [Manchester City goalkeeper] Ederson, that says a lot about him.”
Schmeichel, who came up through the youth ranks at Manchester City, was full of praise for the Premier League champions’ keeper and the way he has been utilised by coach Pep Guardiola.
“For someone, particularly at that age, to be playing fearlessly as he is, he plays with high risk and his reading of the game is exceptional,” Schmeichel said of the Brazilian. “It’s a trademark of Guardiola. You saw exactly how he played with [Bayern Munich No. 1 Manuel] Neuer as well. If you can play like that, it means you can press so much higher up the pitch, meaning when the other team does eventually have to kick it long then if it goes over the centre-halves’ heads then you’ve got a guy right behind them.
“He’s basically an 11th outfield player. To be able to play like that is something that takes enormous bravery. To know that the line between getting it right and wrong is so thin. Any potential misstep, a fraction of a millisecond too late or too early can be the difference between costing your team. That’s real bravery. Last season he was definitely the best goalkeeper in the league, for me.”