Liverpool’s Simon Mignolet put in an inspired performance last week and helped his team in hanging on to all three points, just as he did in the opening game of last season against Stoke City. The Belgian showed excellent reflexes as he denied Southampton an equalizer late on.
Mignolet’s shot stopping abilities were never in doubt as he often comes out with brilliant saves, but where he lacks is in his distribution and decision making in set pieces. While there is no denying that he will get better with time, one does wonder who will replace him if he experiences a sudden drop in form as all goalkeepers do at some point in their career. And that’s when Brendan Rodgers will have to scratch his head as there isn’t a quality replacement in the squad.
It’s hard to find a quality keeper and make him the number two, as only one can play at a time. Quality keepers like Iker Casillas(for Real Madrid), Pepe Reina and Victor Valdes(for Spain) have been restricted to the bench at times, and have expressed their displeasure too, so signing a number two needs careful probe as you can risk losing the player with “lack of game time” being his prime reason.
Luckily, where Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers might succeed is signing Argentinian International Sergio Romero. Romero spent most of the time on the bench at Sampdoria and still made it to the Argentinian playing XI in the World Cup. So, the risk of losing Romero compared to other world class keepers is less if he does end up at Liverpool. And he isn’t the worst keeper to sing for the speculated fee either as he has had a good World Cup showing one of the most fundamental skills that is lacking in a lot of keepers – concentration.
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There is a downside to it as well; if you look at the stats of Mignolet and Romero, you’ll notice that both of them have poor distribution accuracy. Liverpool’s current second choice Brad Jones has a better distribution accuracy than Romero, and his overall stats are better too. However, Jones has played in fewer games compared to Romero and certain stats do depend on the type of football Liverpool play. Besides, except for the game against Blackburn a few seasons ago, the Australian has been average whenever he has been called into action. Is he a keeper to have when you are challenging for the top 4 (at minimum) and playing in the best club competition after an absence of 5 years?
It does surprise everyone why Rodgers signed Mignolet, who has poor distribution, when he doesn’t suit the style of Liverpool! With the type of passing game Liverpool play, you obviously prefer someone like Pepe Reina who was brilliant with his feet and distribution. Set pieces too hasn’t been Mignolet’s strongest suit as he often flaps in them. So, if he goes out and buys Romero, then it’ll be understandable as Rodgers prefers a keeper with good shot stopping ability than other traits. One thing is certain, Liverpool fans will definitely prefer Romero instead of Jones based on what happened in the World Cup, and right now, it does seem like a good option.