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Tuesday, 22 July 2008

He Should Do Well: Diego Cavalieri

by Paul Grech

When your club is linked with a Brazilian, you’re bound to hope that it is with a midfielder or a striker, such is that country’s tradition. Learning that the player involved is a goalkeeper is therefore always likely to be a disappointment. The likes of Julio Cesar (Inter) Heurelio Gomez (PSV / Tottenham) and Doni (Roma) may have made their mark as excellent goalkeepers but the bias remains.

So it is that Diego Cavalieri’s arrival at Anfield has been met largely with disinterest. That Benitez, reportedly struggling to stretch his financial resources, has paid £3 million for him hasn’t helped. The players previously linked to fill the soon to be created void, Birminham’s Maik Taylor and Fulham’s Anti Niemi, would have been much cheaper and - given their experience in the Premiership – perhaps better options.

After all, Liverpool had tried to be clever in signing a back-up to Pepe Reina a year later and been left disappointed. Charles Itandje had arrived with a reputation of being a promising goalkeeper who would be more than capable of stepping up should the need arise. Instead, the Frenchman ultimately proved to be inadequate and a shocking display against Barnsley in the FA Cup determined his fate.

Cavalieri arrives in similar circumstances. Little is known about him yet whatever information has been gleaned sounds promising. He’s a good keeper who will be a more than able deputy for Reina, we’ve been told. At the same time, he was largely a reserve at Palmeiras so how good can he really be?

“For what it's worth, I rate him and I think Liverpool are getting him for a very good price,” that the opinion of Jon Cotterill, football commentator for TV Globo in São Paulo and the author of the blog on Brazilian football Pitaco do Gringo.

Overall, Cotterill’s impressions of Cavalieri seem promising. “Cavaleri is 25, approximately 6ft 4" and a Palmeiras youth product who turned pro in 2002. He picked up an italian passport earlier this year, which made it considerably easier for Liverpool to sign him.”

“He's a good shot-stopper but needs to work on his command of the area. He also has the Brazilian habit of trying to punch everything away instead of holding on to the ball.” The latter isn’t necessarily a problem given that Reina initially had the same habit, one that wuld appear has been coached out of him.

As for the worry about Cavalieri being a substitute at Palmeiras, Cotterill seems to uphold the views that this is only because the regular – Marcos – is something of a club legend. “I've seen quite a lot of him and I think he's actually better than Marcos because he doesn't make as many clownish mistakes.”

That of a goalkeeper is a delicate role precisely because you’re either in the side or else you’re not: there’s only one spot available. It isn’t easy to know that you’re unlikely to get a chance regardless of how hard you try. In that regard, Cavalieri comes with the right mentality: he’s already used to being second choice yet at the same time seems determined to keep on progressing.

He remains a strange choice yet is increasingly looking like the right one.

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