Does Vitezslav Jaros Have a Future at Liverpool?

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Vitezslav Jaros In Profile

It’s been almost seven years in the making. Vitezslav Jaros has been waiting for an opportunity in Liverpool’s first team ever since he joined the club as a 16 year old back in 2017.

Now, at last the Czech goalkeeper may finally get the opportunity he has been working towards all this time.

In the past seven years, Jaros has built up his career at Liverpool. He has progressed through the club’s youth ranks, winning the FA Youth Cup in the process, and then gradually ventured out on loan to get a taste of senior football.

In four loan spells to date, Jaros has won three trophies and has grown in confidence and ability.

This summer he’s just made his debut for the Czech national team and will also be heading to Euro 2024.

After that, he will have an opportunity to prove himself in front of Arne Slot in pre-season with a spot definitely up for grabs in Liverpool’s squad this summer.

The Liverpool Goalkeeper Situation

Caoimhin Kelleher is expected to leave Anfield for pastures new this summer. The Republic of Ireland goalkeeper will be turning 26 years old later this year. Even for a goalkeeper he is no longer considered a youngster.

It feels like he is approaching a point in his career where he will be looking to play regular minutes at senior level and at Liverpool he will not be able to get that with Alisson Becker ahead of him in the pecking order.

Kelleher’s departure will open up a spot for someone else to take the back-up goalkeeper role and there is no better candidate for that than Jaros.

Why Jaros is Ready for the Step-up to Liverpool

Over the last twelve months, Jaros has gradually been integrated into the Liverpool first team. He spent last summer with the senior squad in pre-season and even featured for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

He then spent the next six months during the first half of the season training week in week out with Liverpool’s first team before being sent out on loan to Sturm Graz in January.

At Sturm Graz, Jaros enjoyed a spectacular season. The Czech goalkeeper not only lifted the Austrian Cup but also won the Austrian Bundesliga with his side, ending a ten year long run of consecutive Red Bull Salzburg victories.

At the same time, Jaros was also tested in Europe, playing two legs in the UEFA Conference League against Lille and Slovan Bratislava and very much catching the eye throughout the whole campaign.

What Makes Jaros an Impressive Goalkeeper

Overall, Jaros conceded only 11 goals and kept five clean sheets in 14 league games during his time at Sturm Graz.

As a goalkeeper, he is extremely competent at doing the basics. Standing at 1.90 metres, he isn’t the tallest goalkeeper, but he is physically very strong and hard to beat.

Last season, in the Austrian Bundesliga, he had the second best save percentage in the entire league (77.08%) as per Wyscout. Only his Sturm Graz teammate, Kjell Scherpen, narrowly edged him out with 78.18%.

He also conceded the second fewest goals per 90 (0.73) marginally being edged out by teammate Scherpen (0.67 per 90) again.

Jaros obviously benefitted from having a solid defence in front of him. Only Salzburg (31.62) had fewer expected goals against than Sturm Graz (39.95).

But even taking into account the quality of chances Jaros faced and the saves that he had to make, he still prevented 0.43 goals overall – meaning he did better than the stats expected him to perform.

Jaros’ Physical Strengths and Anticipation

Jaros was just one of five goalkeepers in the league who won a 100% of his defensive duels in the Austrian Bundesliga last season.

Despite not being the tallest as mentioned above, he’s very good in set-piece situations and if he comes out to gather the ball, he will succeed in doing so.

In addition to that, Jaros is also very good at anticipating danger. At Sturm Graz, he played a little bit like a sweeper keeper and was extremely impressive in sniffing out opposition counter attacks.

No one averaged more possession-adjusted interceptions (3.55 per 90) out of goalkeepers last season than Jaros – highlighting just how good he was at getting off his line and sweeping up the ball to regain possession for his team.

Area for Improvement?

If we have to be critical about Jaros, one area where there may be room for improvement is his distribution.

The typical Liverpool goalkeeper averages around 30-35 passes per 90 minutes. Alisson averaged 28.29 and Kelleher averaged 32.39 per 90 last season. They also had a high completion rate with Alisson averaging 90.95% and Kelleher 89.4%.

As opposed to the Liverpool pair, Jaros averaged just 19.12 passes per 90 – this ranked him in the bottom five goalkeepers in the Austrian Bundesliga. His pass completion of 85.17% also falls short of the numbers Kelleher and Alisson hit for Liverpool last season.

Considering playing out from the back is a key role for a Liverpool goalkeeper, this is an area where Jaros would have to quickly improve.

Worth a Shot?

Even with those passing numbers, Liverpool have spent seven years developing Jaros and given the season he just had in Austria, it would be a shame to not see him being at least given a chance this summer.

He’s a very competent goalkeeper, and while there are some question marks data wise about his distribution this is an area of his game that he can always work to improve in training.

Overall, he’s got the makings of a player more than capable of becoming Liverpool’s second choice goalkeeper and the successor to Kelleher’s throne.

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