Liverpool youngster set for first-team chance after summer spent with Virgil van Dijk

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Liverpool goalkeeper Marcelo Pitaluga will be among the first players back for pre-season next week, having spent his summer training with Virgil van Dijk.

Pitaluga was the final signing of last summer for the Reds, with the club confirming his arrival from Fluminense in October, having already been spotted in first-team training.

The deal for the Brazilian was worth an initial £700,000, with a further £1.1 million to be paid in various add-ons, while Liverpool also agreed to a 25 percent sell-on clause.

Holder of a German passport, Pitaluga signed a three-year deal with the Reds, who have the option of extending this by a further two years to effectively tie him down until 2025.

While he made seven appearances at academy level last season – four for the under-23s, three for the under-18s – the 18-year-old was considered, for all intents and purposes, a senior player.

He trains week in, week out with Jurgen Klopp‘s first team, working closely with goalkeeping coaches John Achterberg and Jack Robinson, along with the likes of Alisson, Adrian and Caoimhin Kelleher.

KINGSTON-UPON-THAMES, ENGLAND - Friday, February 19, 2021: Liverpool's goalkeeper Marcelo Pitaluga during the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Chelsea FC Under-23's and Liverpool FC Under-23's at the Kingsmeadow Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

However, Pitaluga’s first season on Merseyside was cut short in February, after he suffered an injury in a 3-2 win over the Chelsea U23s, which forced him off just before half-time and ruled him out for around four months.

The youngster was part of Liverpool’s lap of honour after the 2-0 victory at home to Crystal Palace on the final day of last term, before embarking on a short post-season holiday.

Much of his summer was spent in the Algarve, training with club fitness staff at The Campus sports complex.

Liverpool’s head of fitness and conditioning Andreas Kornmayer has been stationed at the resort, with Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also training there.

But it is Van Dijk who has worked most closely with Pitaluga, with the teenager running drills with the Dutchman and standing between the posts for his finishing sessions.

No doubt there have been words of advice shared as the pair run around the pitches in Quinta do Lago, and it could be a relationship that benefits the young goalkeeper as he looks to establish himself further at Liverpool.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 3, 2021: Liverpool's Marcelo Pitaluga during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. Brighton & Hove Albion won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This summer could even see him given a chance to impress in the Reds’ pre-season friendlies, with Alisson not expected to report back until August due to his involvement at Copa America.

Brazil play their semi-final against Peru on Tuesday, with a final against either Argentina or Colombia set for July 11, after which Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino would be given at least three weeks off.

That would leave Kelleher and Adrian as Klopp’s starters for pre-season, with Pitaluga then available as an alternate – likely along with Jakub Ojrzynski, Harvey Davies and Liam Hughes.

Pitaluga is then due to spend the rest of the season continuing to train and travel with the senior squad, with hopes of cementing himself as Alisson‘s long-term successor.

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