Loris Karius faces a defining period in his Liverpool career, with Jurgen Klopp confirming that the German has surpassed Simon Mignolet as the club’s No.1 goalkeeper.
Signing from Mainz in 2016, the 24-year-old arrived having been voted the second best ‘keeper in the Bundesliga behind Manuel Neuer. With such prestige to his name, fans naturally believed he’d be the man to add some real quality in between the sticks and help solidify an unreliable defensive line.
However, things haven’t quite panned out as hoped for Karius.
Suffering a broken hand in pre-season got his career off to a rocky start, stunting a positive pre-season campaign ahead of the 2016/17 season. Upon his return, the German has played second fiddle to Mignolet, featuring just 14 times in his eighteen-month tenure.
The former-Mainz player has shown signs of what he can offer, producing a strong performance away at Southampton in the League Cup last season. He was one of very few players in Red to distinguish himself from the rest, making two brilliant first-half saves to deny Nathan Redmond.
Yet, having started in the thrilling 4-3 win over Manchester City, the jury remains out on Karius after another costly high-profile error between the sticks saw Leroy Sane fire a powerful shot in at the near post to make it 1-1 at the break.
All of Liverpool’s rivals possess world-class ‘keepers: Chelsea have Courtois; City spent big on Ederson; Spurs have Lloris and United have David De Gea. That serves to underline the need for Liverpool to bring in someone of a similar mould in the summer as Klopp looks to strengthen the spine amid Naby Keita’s arrival.
He’s the only goalkeeper to have saved fewer shots, three, than goals conceded, four, in the league this season. With the poorest shot-to-save ratio in the league (43%), there’s been much to be desired about a player who arrived on Merseyside with such promise. A last-minute spill against Bournemouth that allowed Nathan Ake to coast in and clinch a 4-3 win is just one example in a wholesome selection of costly errors from Karius.
Thus, Klopp’s decision represents a huge show of faith in the 24-year-old who’s now set for a pivotal four-month spell at the club. He must prove he’s able to live up to the heights Klopp requires or risk being shipped out alongside the much-maligned Mignolet.
Of course, there’s a very real chance that a thoroughly impressive couple of months will do little to spur Klopp away from recruiting Alisson or Jan Oblak in the summer, nor should it, but the German ‘keeper has a great opportunity to prove he’s the player we were led to believe. Rest assured, every call he makes from now until the end of the season will be picked apart from head to toe.