Since Pepe Reina left Liverpool Football Club in 2014, they have struggled between the sticks. Replacement Simon Mignolet has had an extremely controversial career in a Liverpool shirt – his performances yo-yoing between good, average and abysmal.
After the finalising of the £75million move for Virgil van Dijk, Kopites were elated and confident that more star signings were in store. But as the final hours of the transfer window trickled out, disappointment landed.
The only other deal made by Liverpool was for prospect left-back Anderson Arroyo. The Colombian youngster was snapped up by Jurgen Klopp from Fortaleza for a nominal fee.
Links to Roma goalkeeper Alisson Becker had fans in turmoil. The unconfirmed rumours caused a lot of frustration over why Klopp wasn’t actively pursuing the 25-year-old.
Sure enough, the ‘in the know’ claims on Twitter turned out to be false and Liverpool exited the January window without a new keeper.
A list of options
Having a bad defence is a problem, but nine times out of ten a reliable keeper is there to tie up any loose ends. However having a bad defence and an equally leaky goalkeeper is a disaster.
When Liverpool signed current Number 1 Loris Karius from Mainz in 2016, he was a promising player. However under the training of John Achterberg, his quality hit a decline.
Wrestling with the criticism of the German newcomer, Klopp re-promoted Mignolet to first choice goalkeeper. The switch worked for a while because the Belgian obviously felt he had a point to prove. However his bad habits slipped back into view and cost Liverpool a lot of games.
Whilst the Chuckle Brothers of goalkeeping were taking turns to see who could make the biggest howler, Danny Ward sat gathering dust in the reserves team.
Ward helped his loan team Huddersfield Town reach Premier League ground after their dramatic Championship playoff final against Reading last year. Ward’s save of Reading’s final penalty resulted in a hullabaloo of a celebration from the Terriers and their fans. The Huddersfield hero returned to Liverpool shortly after the playoff.
After such an impressive performance and a great achievement to have under your belt, surely you’d walk into your club’s first team? Sadly for the Welshman, Klopp only started him in one Carabao Cup game in 2017 which finished 2-0 to rivals Leicester.
Ward didn’t get another chance to prove himself and has also been told he isn’t for sale and won’t be making another loan move to Huddersfield.
A pot luck decision
With Simon Mignolet reaching a plateau in his career after five years as a Red, his time at the club is limited.
But lately Klopp has been seemingly tossing a coin to decide which keeper starts which game. Mixing the choices up nearly every match has had horrible effects on both keepers, leading to even more mistakes.
Karius, who has been improving rapidly with game time, still doesn’t know when he will be dropped again. Ward still suffers silently in the reserves whilst Mignolet warms the bench.
Klopp’s tactics seem to have no direction and yet he is showing no interest elsewhere either. Fans are unsure whether Loris Karius is the official first choice or whether a brand new keeper is yet again being lined up.
The January Alisson rumours had fans dreaming of the things Liverpool could accomplish with such a strong team. The Reds have always been excellent going forward but their line up at the back is easy rattled.
A top goalkeeper sets the spine for a successful team, and that’s something Liverpool have been lacking for a number of years.
Although his ball skills are poor, Mignolet’s team spirit is faultless.
The Number 22 is always praising and motivating his team on social media whether he played the match or not. With such a strong mutual love and respect with Liverpool, it’ll be easier to tell him that his era is slowly coming to a close.
Danny Ward, however, may not take it as well. The third choice has been desperate for some game time, whether it’s in a red shirt or on loan but Klopp has denied both requests. There’s only so much rejection a player can take.
Unless the manager is planning on replacing Mignolet as second string, a permanent move needs to be put in place for Ward. For a 24-year-old, the footballing world is his oyster, and he doesn’t deserve to rot in the U23s team.
After a streak of starting appearances, Karius is starting to build his quality and his confidence. Yesterday’s clash against Southampton was a stellar performance on Karius’ part.
The German pulled off some fantastic saves to make up for a few defensive errors. His instinct to come off his line is starting to grow back and with strong defenders like van Dijk and Andy Robertson in front of him, he looks a lot more comfortable.
So what’s in store for Liverpool’s three goalkeepers? The most senior player has peaked, the most promising player has been forgotten and the newest player isn’t 100% trustworthy.
Is it time to shed some old skin and bring up an academy player? Or is there a delicious new signing in store for the summer transfer window?
Either way, Klopp needs to act on whichever he chooses pretty quickly. With rivals like Man City and Man Utd strengthening their squad and Arsenal looking more dangerous than ever, Liverpool need to keep up with the pack.
If the defensive woes persist, Klopp could face losing his best forward players. But if he makes the correct decision, Liverpool have every chance of being Premier League champions next season with a lot of star players flocking to play for him.
Written by Georgia Goulding
Follow Georgia on Twitter @gjgoulding
Check out her excellent football blog: Football, Findings and Fiction
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