David de Gea, Petr Cech, Thibaut Courtois, Hugo Lloris. The Premier League and the teams in it certainly have the ability to attract world-class keepers to their ranks. Even mediocre Premier League teams have at least one decent keeper (e.g. Jordan Pickford), and the likes of City and United even have backups that could easily get a game in other top-level clubs around the world. Liverpool on the other hand, can’t seem to find one.
A trip back through time shows a bit of a shower when it comes to reliable goalkeepers at Anfield, and it’s quite amazing that nobody has really bitten the bullet and spent big cash on a shot stopper. Although a decent keeper, Pepe Reina was probably the last decent keeper to have graced the Liverpool first team, and his colleague Jerzy Dudek, despite being a bit of a hero, was nothing to really write home about. Since then, Liverpool have fielded Brad Jones, Daniele Padelli, the incredible Diego Cavalieri, and now have a choice between new-ish arrival Loris Karius, and Belgian Simon Mignolet. The latter has been a very questionable first choice for nearly 6 years now, and is absolutely gaffe prone.
Despite having a promising start to his Premier League career at Sunderland, Mignolet has come undone at Liverpool, with many fans and pundits calling him out for poor positioning, terrible communication and all-round dreadful performances. Oh, and this started in 2014. In 2017, he was at one point the worst keeper in the league, and his record of 80 clean sheets from 245 Premier League appearances is miles behind the like of De Gea and co. With the fans absolutely screaming for someone that wasn’t the man dubbed ‘Dracula’ by legend Bruce Grobbelaar, it’s not surprise that Jurgen Klopp finally got around to buying a new keeper as part of Liverpool rebuilding plan.
Loris Karius joined Liverpool in time for 2016-17 season, coming from one of Klopp’s former sides, Mainz. The German was voted the second best keeper in the league, behind only Manuel Neuer in 2015-16, and arrived with plenty of promise. It only took until October 2016 for Karius to be named first choice keeper ahead of Mignolet.
The current season has been good for Karius too, and Liverpool especially. Although they won’t be winning the league, it looks as though they are guaranteed European football next year at Anfield, and things could get even better. Liverpool have a huge semi-final awaiting them, although they aren’t favourites for the Champions League, they are still very much in the hunt for the trophy. Despite Liverpool’s back line still being the weak link, defensive performances have improved massively this year, and Karius’ record of 10 clean sheets from 24 appearances is not to be sniffed at.
Mignolet is still getting plenty of game time however, and Karius hasn’t really done enough to be classed as a viable long term option, so this is where Liverpool need to make a huge change. With the Belgian at backup, and the only other realistic option being the unproven Adam Bogdan, it’s definitely time to invest in a top-notch keeper.
Jan Oblak is one option, and was already targeted by Klopp in the January transfer window. The Atletico Madrid man and Slovenian International has recently signed a new deal to stay in Spain, but paying extra to get a decent shot stopper could be an option in the summer. Going for a raid on a fellow Premier League club would be equally as expensive, but it’s unlikely that Liverpool would pay the £100 million plus price tags attached to the likes of Courtois or Lloris. Klopp will probably have to turn his attention to other European top flight teams. Decent shouts for a replacement for Karius at number 1 include Bilbao’s Kepa, current Brazilian first choice Alisson, Inter Milan’s Samir Handanovic and PSG’s Kevin Trapp. All could make an impact, and would certainly be more cost effective than buying out huge contracts at rival clubs.
The key factor in Liverpool’s hunt for a goalkeeper is someone with a voice. With big investments in defence with the arrival of £75 million Virgil van Dyke, Liverpool need a goalkeeper who can boss his defence around and manage from the back. Again, this is a part that is definitely missing from the current setup, and just another element that new keeper could bring. So please, Jurgen, drop some cash on a goalkeeper and end the misery of having to watch Simon Mignolet standing around like a tin of milk week in, week out.