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Trust Loris Karius or buy someone else? The strange goalkeeper situation at Liverpool

By Prashanth Kumar
Loris Karius is the current Liverpool No 1, but seems to be a stop gap arrangement for Jurgen Klopp

Bengaluru, April 23: Liverpool must sign a new goalkeeper or promote their academy product if they are to mount a challenge for the Premier League title next season. Belgian Simon Mignolet has dropped drastically in his work rate for Liverpool, while Loris Karius has impressed in patches.

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp had indicated right at the start of the season that the place between the sticks was up for grabs. It was a warning shot to his then No 1 Mignolet, and a wake-up call for Karius, a 4.7 million-pound signing from Mainz. However, Mignolet is facing a dead end at Melwood, while Karius is only a stop gap arrangement for Liverpool.

Mignolet fighting to stay relevant

Mignolet this season has faded. He's not commanding his box, is indecisive with set pieces and doesn't sweep. His distribution has been poor and shot-stopping abilities too have been questioned. He has had better performances in the Liverpool shirt, especially in the 2013-14 season. But the most expensive Liverpool goalkeeper ever has never been able to win over all of his doubters and his time in Merseyside seems to have come to an end.

The goal that the Belgian conceded against Arsenal in December 2017 could be the final straw. That Granit Xhaka strike didn’t bend or swerve, and was hit straight at the goal. But the keeper stayed rooted to his position much to the visible angst of his manager.

Karius – the current first choice

Klopp has backed Karius several times in the season despite the German's initial struggles. Though Liverpool enjoyed a thrilling 4-3 win over Manchester City back in January at home, Karius was criticised for getting beaten at his near post by Leroy Sane.

Karius has never been flawless but appears to have learned from his errors. With starts in the last 16 and quarter finals of Champions League, the German seems to have grown in confidence and Klopp’s decision on him may hang onto how he performs in the business end of the season.

Thinking beyond Karius

Karius recent rise has been important in Liverpool’s surge in Europe but he has still not adjusted to the Premier League’s physicality. In terms of competition, both the Liverpool goalkeepers lag behind the elites by far. Karius and Mignolet have a save percentage of 68% and 59% respectively compared to David de Gea’s 81.2% this season. For a proper title challenge next season, The Reds have to address the problem at the goalkeeping department immediately. What are their options?

A. Promote Danny Ward - The young goalkeeper has been on the fringes of the first team for a while and is highly regarded at Anfield. He has been convincing in his few Cup appearances but this would be another risk.

B. Sign a New Goalkeeper- With still money in the lockers from the Philippe Coutinho move, Klopp could go strong for a top keeper in the summer.

The big ones available in the market are:

1. Allison – The Roma man is gearing up for his first Anfield appearance in the Champions League semi-finals. The man keeping Ederson out of Brazil’s top 11 has been phenomenal in Italy this season.

2. Jack Butland - Likely to start for England in Russia, he has made 99 saves, more than anyone in Premier League this season for the relegation-threatened Stoke City.

3. Jan Oblak - The big Slovenian has admirers throughout the world; it would be a coup if Reds could lure him away from Atletico Madrid.

4. Iker Casillas - the Spanish World Cup and Champions League winner would bring winning experience and seemingly Porto would let him go for the right price.

5. Kepa Arizabangla - the young Athletic Bilbao keeper is said to be of world class potential and has come of age in La liga this season.

6. Nick Pope - the Burnley man grabbed his opportunity in absence of Tom Heaton and has the second highest save percent (79.2%) in the Premier League this season.

7. Peter Gulasci - the ex-Liverpool man has turned around his career at RB Leipzig and was one of the best in Bundesliga last season.

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Story first published: Monday, April 23, 2018, 17:08 [IST]
Other articles published on Apr 23, 2018
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