Having been without a club after West Ham United released him in the summer of 2019, Adrian was offered the opportunity of a lifetime. Jurgen Klopp approached him to become Alisson Becker’s backup at Liverpool Football Club.
What followed was a fairy-tale beginning to the Spaniard’s Anfield career. Within two weeks of his return from the free-agency wilderness, Adrian became an instant hero of the Kop, saving Tammy Abraham’s penalty to win the European Super Cup.
Early injury to Alisson gave Adrian an unexpected run as the club’s number one, which featured a string of confident and well praised performances. A particular moment that stood out within this spell came in a 2-0 Champions League defeat to Napoli.
Despite the loss, Adrian kept the Red’s in the match and produced a truly miraculous save in the 49thminute to deny Dries Mertens what seemed to be a certain goal.
Even though the 2019/20 season proved to be a huge success for Liverpool, who clinched their first league title in 30 years, Adrian’s own personal fairy-tale quickly unravelled into a nightmare.
His final appearance of the 19/20 season came in the infamous 2-3 Champions League Round of 16 defeat to Atletico Madrid. A scintillating Liverpool performance had the team up 2-0 and set for the Quarter-Final stage but the Redmen were derailed by clinical Atletico finishing.
The majority of Liverpool’s fan base found Adrian’s poor distribution and positioning to be the root cause of Liverpool’s elimination. And so, once a fan favourite, Adrian’s reputation amongst the fanbase quickly plummeted into free-fall.
A Quick 2020/21 Recap
The 2020/21 season proved to be a difficult one for Adrian. It seemed the fateful events and criticism of the Atletico Madrid game haunted his confidence into the new season.
Adrian made a mere four appearances for Liverpool on 2020/21 and his standing within the fanbase deteriorated further after his second appearance of the season, the embarrassing 7-2 loss to Aston Villa (Yes, that happened).
Adrian’s performance was noted as one of the worst of a quite obviously bad bunch. From his stray pass to Joe Gomez for Ollie Watkins opener, to the horribly misjudged cross that had him in no man's land as Watkins struck the bar, the Aston Villa performance certainly seemed to have dug another nail into Adrian’s Liverpool coffin.
As a consequence of his poor start to the season, Adrian was displaced as the second choice Liverpool goalkeeper by Caoimhin Kelleher. The Irishman grabbed the opportunity with both hands, delivering strong back-to-back performances to solidify his status as Alisson’s new understudy.
Adrian made one further appearance in the season, in a comfortable 2-0 away win at Sheffield United.
The 2021/22 expectation
Whilst it seemed that Adrian’s Liverpool career was all but over, with his contract set to expire at the end of the 2020/21 season, the club and management saw things differently. Despite being the third-choice goalkeeper, Adrian was rewarded with a new extended contract in June. The reaction of the fanbase was ‘why?’.
I will try to explain why now. One thing we cannot deny about Liverpool’s number 13 is his wealth of experience in football and the Premier League. The Spaniard has been in the league since 2013 and so far, has featured in 139 Premier League games.
This experience is invaluable and will benefit Kelleher immensely as he makes his name in the world of football. There is no doubt that Adrian’s full confidence and advice will help guide Kelleher into a successful footballing career.
Whilst the young Irishman can learn a specific set of skills from Alisson, he equally will be able to lean upon Adrian’s experience of being a number 2 and dealing with the emotional side of the game.
In an interview with Liverpoolfc.com about his contract extension Adrian emphasised his new role stating, "I try to support, to give that confidence to those players, to try to give that confidence in the dressing room."
So, whilst I do not expect Adrian to make any appearances at all during this season, barring injury to Alisson and Kelleher, I believe his personality within the dressing room is a valuable enough commodity to keep him amongst the squad.
Despite it being an unpopular decision amongst the fans to have him staying on, I personally would rather Adrian continue as the third-choice goalkeeper.
So, here’s to hoping that Adrian’s influence in the background can justify his new contract. Perhaps he may even deliver some strong footballing displays along the way. We can only hope, right?