They say all goalkeepers are a little bit crazy. Then again, Simon Mignolet might be the exception to this rule. Steady, but rarely spectacular and for every calamity there’s a world-class save thrown in for good measure. He is a bookies worst nightmare; no-one can predict which Mignolet will show up on the day. That’s a goal even wrote a piece on their blog in January asking for replacements for Mignolet’s as his antics seemed to spoil lots of safe bets and accumulators.
The Belgian international has just finished his second full campaign with the Anfield club and made 55 appearances this season – more than any other Liverpool player. However, this impressive run of games has not been determined through a wealth of consistent performances, but through the distinct lack of rivals for the number one jersey.
Manager Jurgen Klopp isn’t exactly spoilt for choice when deciding who his shot stopper is going to be, although he has publicly declared his admiration for the 28-year-old: “I’ve had a lot of goalkeepers over the last few years and Simon Mignolet is one of the smartest I have ever had.”
Alex Bogdan and youngster Danny Ward have failed to offer a serious threat to the current Liverpool number one and the German has moved quickly to address this positional deficiency in the summer by sealing a deal for Mainz goalkeeper Loris Karius.
Liverpool’s extroverted leader knows the Bundesliga like the back of his hand and will be thrilled to have captured the 22-year-old who has represented Germany at U21 level. Karius saved 74.1% of the shots on target he faced last season and played every minute of Die Nullfünfer’s campaign in which they finished sixth, qualifying for Europe in the process
By comparison, Mignolet recorded a save percentage of just 62.5 per cent and saved 70 shots in Premier League matches – 52 less than the German youngster who looks set to enliven the Kop in the near future.
Karius will have no intention of being a bit-part player and his confidence is reflected in his demeanour – commanding his box and not being afraid to let his feelings known to those in front of him. When it comes to shot stopping, it is easier said than done to separate the two goalkeepers, but the overwhelming disparity may be in their reliability.
The current Liverpool number one is susceptible to making significant errors at crucial moments in matches; highlighted by the four goals he gifted opponents over the course of the season. These mistakes cost the Reds eight points and hypothetically could have been the difference between them making the grade for another crack at European football’s second tier competition in which they were beaten finalists only last week.
Karius is far from flawless, with his ability to deal with crosses and a lack of assuredness with the ball at his feet noticeable blemishes on a prospect who has undoubted potential. These defects are only a small sacrifice given that the £4.7m signing made no individual errors in all 34 league games he featured in last year – an incredible 3060 minutes of football.
If Klopp wants to strengthen this area of his squad further, then Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul would be a great signing and again would offer high-quality competition for a starting berth. At 28, the Dutchman is entering the peak of his career and the enticement of Premier League football would surely be too much to resist should the red half of Merseyside come calling.
Every successful team requires a capable and dependable goalkeeper and the former Sunderland employee will already be feeling the first-team aspirations of Karius breathing down his neck.
Despite his inconsistency and unpredictable nature, Mignolet will be selected as Liverpool’s number one at the start of next season, but for how long it remains to be seen. Surely it is just a matter of time before the latest recruit of Klopp’s Anfield revolution is given the chance to shine in between the sticks.