Sanjay Nair reviews Simon Mignolet’s 2017/18 season and discusses what the future holds for the Belgian.
Every season since Liverpool signed him from Sunderland in 2013, Simon Mignolet has been under tremendous scrutiny and the 2017/18 season was no different.
Having started out as Liverpool’s no.1 in the Premier League, Mignolet’s season ended halfway through the campaign. 7 clean sheets in 19 games would seem like a reasonable return for a goalkeeper in a league where there has not been a shortage of goals.
However, only one of those clean sheets have been against a top-6 side and that came against a Manchester United side which came to Anfield with the sole intention of the proverbial ‘parking of the bus.’
Five years into his Liverpool career and Mignolet still does not instill confidence in his manager or fans. His judgement at set pieces or crosses into the box and positioning in front of goal have continuously been found wanting and has cost Liverpool crucial points.
Conceding late against Chelsea at home being a classic example. Mignolet was also completely kept out of the Champions League campaign, having been in goal for the qualifiers against Hoffenheim.
Karius was one of the star performers of the Reds’ run to the final which ironically they lost due to two costly goalkeeping errors.
One could argue Mignolet’s case stating the frailties of the Liverpool defence as a contributing factor, especially when his replacement as Liverpool no. 1 in Loris Karius had the benefit of Virgil Van Dijk marshaling the defence during the second half of the campaign.
It is no secret that van Dijk did improve those around him and Liverpool kept a further 10 clean sheets.
Overall, a campaign to forget for Mignolet and it is unlikely, on two counts, we will see him in a Liverpool jersey in the coming season.
Firstly, even if Liverpool were to not pursue an upgrade in that area, the likelihood of him being promoted back to no. 1 is remote as Klopp has made his preference for Karius very obvious.
Secondly, and this is something fans all over will be hoping for, it is imperative for Liverpool to buy a world-class goalkeeper if they are to make a sustained title challenge and fight on four fronts next season.
Whether it is Allison or Oblak or even Butland, the goalkeeping area will be addressed for sure.
Mignolet is by no means a spent force and he could still have a minimum of five years left in the tank.
The Belgian is still undoubtedly one of the better shot-stoppers around and a move to another club for regular first-team action would seem the only logical option left for him now.
It is still early days for such a thought, but it might be appropriate to say a ‘Thank You, Simon,’ for the memories’ right now.
Here’s wishing him all the best for the future.