One of the biggest stories surrounding Liverpool over the past couple of weeks has been the goalkeeping issue, the FA Cup game at home to Everton would be the beginning of a run of first team games for Loris Karius with Simon Mignolet seemingly cast aside in favour of the German. Since the third-round game, Liverpool have played a total of seven matches, with Karius starting in six of those and Mignolet in one. It’s clear that the manager has already started to look ahead to his summer recruitment and feels that a goalkeeper might be an area that needs reinforcements.
Since Klopp has been in charge of Liverpool, Simon Mignolet has always been his number 1 choice for goalkeeper; Karius was given a chance in his first season but after failing to make the most of it the Belgian was reinstated. That was until last month when Klopp clearly felt that Mignolet had made one mistake too many and has now given Karius until the end of the season to prove to the manager that he is Liverpool’s long-term goalkeeper.
With the way the switch happened; it piled the pressure on Karius who to date hadn’t instilled much confidence into the Anfield faithful. In the German’s champions league showings, he really wasn’t to blame for any of the conceded goals but similarly didn’t have to pull off any spectacular saves to keep Liverpool in the game. However, since Karius has been the starting goalkeeper; he’s putting in the type of performances that you expect at a club like Liverpool.
Whether Klopp’s faith has given him new confidence or if the arrival of Van Dijk has had a factor, Karius is looking more like the goalkeeper that they signed from Mainz as opposed to the goalkeeper that first turned up at Merseyside. His first few games gave him nothing to write home about but the performances in the 2-2 draw with Tottenham and the 2-0 victory over Southampton have started to raise the eyebrows of his critics.
You can’t get carried away, in his Liverpool career Karius has had more bad games than good. But at 24 he still has at least another ten years at the top level and dips in form and performances are expected from young players. If Liverpool want to consolidate fourth spot every season and maybe win a trophy every so often then look no further than Karius for your number one spot. The issue lies in the fact that Jurgen Klopp isn’t building that type of team, for the manager top four is a benchmark that the club should be hitting every season whilst competing for the biggest trophies in club football. For that, you need elite players in every position and at this moment in time Karius doesn’t fit that mould; he will see us through to the end of the season but at his current performance level won’t go much further than that.
It almost seems like a given now that Simon Mignolet will leave the club this summer, similarly Danny Ward can’t be too happy about only making one appearances since returning as Huddersfield’s play-off hero. If both leave without a replacement then you’re looking at Loris Karius playing every game in the future with young Kamil Grabara as his back-up. That simply isn’t good enough for a team who from next season onwards will be looking to push Manchester City for the Premier League title.
Last summer Centre halves were the big thing, Van Dijk was wanted by almost every top six club. Chelsea signed Rudiger, Tottenham signed Davinson Sanchez, Manchester United signed Lindelof and City eventually signed Laporte in January. This summer it seems that the trend will be goalkeepers and that means Liverpool will have to move quickly to ensure they acquire a quality player that can take the club to the next level in a similar way Van Dijk did this January.
The issue is that Liverpool aren’t the only club looking at new goalkeepers, Real Madrid are reportedly looking at targets; PSG are after Oblak and both of them as well as Liverpool have been linked with Alisson from Roma. If either United or Chelsea lose their goalkeepers then that’s another elite club in the market for a shot stopper.
Hopefully Karius will stay the club even if a new goalkeeper is bought, for some reason now every club has two good goalkeepers and having a player who is competent enough to step in for you at any notice on the bench breeds healthy competition at the club. I mentioned how currently Karius is not at the level the club needs to make the step up, but if we spend the money and that new goalkeeper pushes Karius to a new level in spite of the new signing then it will be money well spent.
But for now, Loris Karius just needs to keep doing what he’s doing – a.k.a just don’t be shit. His performances haven’t been world class but he’s showing how easy it makes it for the team if he just does his job. Liverpool didn’t step out of second gear against Southampton and on any other day the Saints would have had at least an equaliser with the chances they had but because Karius was there to just do what needs to be done the reds weren’t pegged back and killed the game on the stroke of half-time.
Karius has done absolutely no harm to his future first team chances and we all know that Klopp prefers to give his current players every chance he can before dipping into the transfer market to replace them. I just hope that this upturn in performances doesn’t become something deemed as starting XI quality when in reality it’s the benchmark for what is expected. Long may the new Loris Karius continue, but in the summer, Liverpool really need to make a statement with their goalkeeper.
Article by Louis Connor
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