Adrian: 2 Months in Hollywood

After spending four seasons as the first-choice goalkeeper at West Ham United, Manuel Pellegrini mercilessly demoted him to second-choice goalkeeper in favour of loanee Joe Hart.

The former Manchester City goalkeeper was susceptible to individual errors during his forgettable season-long loan at the London Stadium, but Pellegrini opted to look elsewhere for his first-choice goalkeeper.

Polish international Lukasz Fabianski arrived from Swansea City on a free transfer, after the Welsh club had been relegated to the Championship. He started in all 38 matches in the Premier League and Adrian was simply left the warm the bench.

Adrian made just five appearances in all competitions last season and signed off his six years in London with a 4-2 defeat against AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup 4th Round in January.

It was an unidealistic way to draw the curtain on his time at West Ham and a road to regression was expected to follow when he was released by the club in the summer. But meanwhile, 227 north-west of the London Stadium, Jurgen Klopp was scouring the transfer market for another goalkeeper.

Simon Mignolet had just announced his decision to return to his native Belgium to join Club Brugge following a rollercoaster six-year spell at Anfield. Eyebrows were raised when Klopp acquired Adrian in August, but the majority understood the reasoning behind the transfer and expected him to play a minimal role in the season.

But fate would intervene when Brazilian international Alisson Becker was forced off injured in the 39th minute in the opening fixture against Norwich City. Liverpool went onto win the match 4-1 at Anfield and Alisson was later ruled out for two months with a calf injury.

The resurgence of former West Ham United goalkeeper Adrian at Liverpool has been one of the most remarkable stories of the season.
ISTANBUL, TURKEY – AUGUST 14: Adrian of Liverpool kisses the UEFA Super Cup trophy following victory in the UEFA Super Cup match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Vodafone Park on August 14, 2019 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Five days later, the 32-year-old made his full debut in the UEFA Super Cup final against Chelsea. He would go onto enjoy the finest night of his career, despite conceding a penalty which enabled Chelsea to equalize in extra-time.

With the penalty shoot-out at four goals apiece, Tammy Abraham stepped up to the spot with the intention of sending the shoot-out to sudden death. Adrian stuck out his right leg to thwart the Chelsea striker from twelve yards and simultaneously won the first piece of silverware of his career.

Adrian has conceded just five goals in seven appearances in the Premier League and his influence between the sticks has helped inspire Liverpool to seven consecutive league victories.

Alisson Becker has returned to full training after a two-month absence and Klopp has to make a decision on whether to immediately reinstall Alisson or to stick with Adrian. The fact that Adrian leaked three goals in the 4-3 win over Red Bull Salzburg has hampered his chances on retaining his place in the starting line-up.

But it’s worth reflecting on how far Adrian has come in the past six months.After practically being ostracized by Pellegrini at West Ham, Adrian has proved his worth with the Premier League leaders. It’s been a truly memorable two months for the Spaniard and one of the most intriguing stories of the season.

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