The delights and disasters of Adrián’s two years at Liverpool

Few Liverpool players have had more detractors in the time at Anfield than Adrián. JAMES NOBLE discusses a man whose early successes have been overshadowed by high-profile errors.

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Then 32-year-old Adrián joined on a free transfer on August 5, 2019 as an almost immediate replacement for the recently departed Simon Mignolet. He was then swiftly thrust into the limelight, and has had a highly eventful Reds career since.

There may have only been 28 appearances for Adrián in those two years – such is the nature of being an understudy goalkeeper – but there have still been some notable highs and lows.

Again, such is the nature of being a goalkeeper.

That he has played a considerable part in two of the three trophies Jürgen Klopp’s side have won in the time since his arrival further reflects the eventfulness of his spell on Merseyside. As does his first fortnight.

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Within 14 days of putting pen to paper at Anfield after leaving West Ham United, Adrián had already made an unexpected debut, saved the penalty which won Liverpool the UEFA Super Cup and made a sizeable error at Southampton.

That unexpected debut – and the rest – came about because of a calf injury sustained by Alisson Becker in the Premier League opener against Norwich City on August 9.

The Spaniard enjoyed a great reception as he ran on towards the Kop goal and he appeared to thrive off the responsibility that followed.

He somewhat unnecessarily conceded a spot-kick to Tammy Abraham which allowed Chelsea to take the Super Cup Final to penalties in Istanbul five days later – but he soon made amends.


After nine successful efforts from 12 yards in the shootout, it was Abraham’s attempt that Adrián kept out with his feet to earn the Reds victory.

He was mobbed by teammates and staff alike – and then inadvertently slide-tackled by a pitch invader.

The resulting ankle injury was reportedly not far from keeping him out of the trip to the South Coast less than 72 hours later and perhaps made his loose pass in that game – which ex-Red Danny Ings converted to halve Liverpool’s 0-2 lead late on – that bit more understandable.

There, though – in less than a fortnight – was a marker of the liveliness that could be expected from Adrián.

He appeared to enjoy meeting big moments and big tests head-on, though – which felt a crucial attribute.

That was on display over the next two months as he made six more appearances in all competitions – which brought five more wins – prior to Alisson’s October 20 return.

Opportunities have been more sporadic – and, in truth, performances a little less reliable – since, but he had already played a big part in building the foundation for Liverpool’s title-winning season.

That shouldn’t be forgotten. With his feet, his hands and his presence – he felt an assured last line of defence in a crucial spell for the club.

There were further Premier League opportunities against Brighton and Hove Albion and Everton in late November and early December respectively – following Alisson’s red card against the former – and an excellent FA Cup display in the 1-0 victory over the Toffees in early January.

Four more appearances followed. Two in the cup, one in the league and one in the Champions League.


The second of those cup games – a 2-0 defeat at Chelsea on March 3 – appeared to cue a shakier spell.

It was the first of three consecutive starts for the ex-Hammer – Alisson would pick up an injury in training that week – and it wasn’t the ideal start when he failed to keep out a powerful Willian drive which gave the Blues the lead at Stamford Bridge.

He looked unsettled for much of the 2-1 home win over Bournemouth four days later – which remains Liverpool’s last Premier League game in front of a full house – before the Atlético Madrid second leg on March 11 produced further difficult moments.

Those moments would, unfortunately, prove costly.

It’s all too easy to scapegoat Adrián here. Klopp spoke post-match of how a key shortcoming on the night was not winning the tie in the 90 minutes.

Shortly after Roberto Firmino had given the hosts a 2-0 extra-time lead on the night – and 2-1 aggregate advantage – Adrián’s attempt to clear Trent Alexander-Arnold’s back-pass gifted the Spanish side possession and meant he was out of position as Marcos Llorente swept the ball home and gave Atlético the lead on away goals.

There is also a feeling that Adrián should have done better with Llorente’s second shortly before the end of the first period of extra-time, before Álvaro Morata struck a third in the dying moments.

That 3-2 Anfield defeat would, of course, prove to be Liverpool’s last competitive match for more than three months as the spread of Covid-19 saw the Premier League suspended later that week.

It feels like that, in itself, did Adrián few favours.

All of a sudden, that became the last game to mull over for a prolonged spell of never-before-seen sporting emptiness – and general emptiness. Perhaps that exacerbated the impact of those errors.

Adrián has often been viewed as a more erratic than reliable presence since.

There have been more errors – for the opener in the 7-2 defeat at Aston Villa in October, for example.

But there have also been positive moments. He was a largely calm presence in his last competitive appearance – the 0-2 win at Sheffield United in February.


Caoimhín Kelleher’s impressive continuing development appears to have seen the 22-year-old usurp Adrián as Alisson’s closest challenger, but the Spaniard still appears well thought of.

The extension of his contract to 2023 in June of this year may not have been met with universal approval – debate did feel largely healthy in this regard – but he feels a positive, popular, upbeat and often selfless presence within the goalkeeping and wider squad ranks.

He feels like a big personality and Klopp wouldn’t have brought him in – and retained his services – if he didn’t feel that that personality was helping to push Liverpool on.

We may not always see those benefits directly, which feels an important factor to consider in the debate around the Spaniard.

A lot of the positives he offers may yet be seen in the sharpness of others.

That’s not quite the level of frontline involvement as in that crazy first fortnight – but it’s involvement that could yet prove similarly valuable.

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