Max Morland ponders whether or not Simon Mignolet will make Loris Karius wait for his competitive debut.
When Loris Karius completed his £4.7 million transfer to Liverpool from German club Mainz in July, many fans quickly assumed that he would replace Simon Mignolet as the Red’s first choice goalkeeper, taking the starting spot away from the experienced Belgium international Simon Mignolet, who has been prone to mistakes throughout his Anfield career
The fan’s excitement for their new goalkeeper grew further when it was revealed that his fellow Bundesliga players had voted him as the second best shot-stopper in the league last season, only losing out to Manuel Neuer by 10% of the vote.
After the 22 year old’s signing had been completed, many fans agreed that securing the services of such a promising young talent for the small fee of £4.7 million, especially in a position in which the team desperately needed strengthening (judging by the some of the Reds’ horrendous goalkeeping performances last season), was a fantastic piece of business by Liverpool.
After the 22 year old’s signing had been completed, many fans agreed that securing the services of such a promising young talent for the small fee of £4.7 million, especially in a position in which the team desperately needed strengthening (judging by the some of the Reds’ horrendous goalkeeping performances last season) was a fantastic piece of business by Liverpool.
However, an injury suffered in July’s pre-season match against Chelsea has delayed Karius’ competitive debut until at least Liverpool’s first home match of the season against Leicester next weekend. As a result, Mignolet has been given the chance to start each of Liverpool’s 4 games this season, and, so far, he is yet to provide Liverpool fans with any nail-biting moments, as he has regularly done in the past.
This could give Jürgen Klopp a minor headache when it comes to deciding on his first line-up this season in when he has both Mignolet and Karius at his disposal. Starting with Karius would surely be a huge mental blow to Mignolet, who could be made to think that no matter how he performs in the future, he will always be second in the pecking order for a starting role.
This could result in Mignolet realising that he has no future at the club, possibly leading to a situation where the Belgian wants a move away from Anfield. Despite the criticism often directed at the 27-year-old, he would likely be a good second choice goalkeeper in comparison to most other clubs currently at a similar level.
However, Klopp demonstrated his faith in Mignolet, who was severely under fire from fans at the time by rewarding the 27 year old with a new 5 year contract, to the surprise of many supporters. Could this be a sign that Klopp is willing to continue to use the Belgian as his first choice goalkeeper? Or did his performances from then until the end of last season convince Klopp that a new shot-stopper was needed?
An indication of Klopp’s preference towards his two goalkeepers may have come when Karius was picked ahead of Mignolet in the match against Chelsea, despite not being able to complete the match due to the injury he sustained in a collision with Dejan Lovren. However Mignolet wasn’t even on the bench in the match due to his late arrival to pre-season – just five days before the match. That friendly in America is the only match in which both goalkeepers have been available for selection.
Since Karius’ arrival at Anfield, Mignolet has insisted that he feels that he is under no pressure from the German, and that he is happy to have competition for his place, which he says will enhance his performances.
However, in his first interview as a Liverpool player, Karius claimed that he only came to the club to be in the first team, and that he wouldn’t have made the move to Merseyside if he didn’t think he would get regular game time.
Jürgen Klopp has also had his say on the issue, with the German claiming in July that there is a ‘fight’ between Mignolet and Karius for the starting spot, although he later admitted that the ‘fight’ only has one winner until the time comes when Karius returns from his injury and is able to compete for a place in the first eleven.
Therefore, whilst some fans will be itching to see their talented, promising new goalkeeper in competitive action for the first time, it is not completely certain that he will be in Jürgen Klopp’s first team plans on his return from injury, although it is very likely that he will feature heavily in both this season and those to come.