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Liverpool made their long awaited move for a goalkeeper this week with Loris Karius arriving for £4.7 million from Mainz. However, doubt still lingers as to whether he has been bought as Liverpool’s first choice goalkeeper for next season or as back-up to Simon Mignolet.
The relatively low fee gives Klopp the opportunity to assess the German close up before making any immediate decision on that and although he has been given the number one jersey vacated by Brad Jones last summer, it is still perfectly plausible that Mignolet will start between the sticks next season.
Karius though has already boldly stated his intention is to immediately be the genuine number one claiming ‘I didn’t come here to sit on the bench’ in his first interview as a Liverpool player and he certainly seems to have a much better chance of permanently displacing Mignolet than either Jones or Adam Bogdan ever did.
The German may only be 22 years old, but he already has three full seasons in the Bundesliga behind him and like his new rival at Anfield is known as an excellent shot-stopper.
Karius though has appeared the more commanding and more decisive goalkeeper and someone willing to quickly come off his line to close down opponents or deal with crosses, a weakness in Mignolet’s game.
The Belgian has also made plenty of high profile errors during his time at Anfield however he has also put in some exceptional displays in the Liverpool goal and made some key saves at crucial moments in Liverpool’s season.
The ability to handle pressure is perhaps the most significant attribute in any goalkeeper at a big club and on that note Karius right now is simply untested. Playing for one of the smallest clubs in the Bundesliga, Karius hasn’t been exposed to the sort of pressure that will be routine at Anfield and his ability to cope with the big stage will most likely determine whether he succeeds at Liverpool or not.
A genuine rival
So far in his young career, it is hard to pick many faults in Karius’ game and he will at the very least be a genuine rival to Mignolet, something he hasn’t previously had and that can only be good news for Liverpool going forward.
Right now, it would seem that Mignolet remains the more likely starter on the opening day of the new Premier League season. Jurgen Klopp has always been very supportive of Mignolet in the media and we should not forget that the Reds’ boss rewarded the Belgian with a new long-term contract only four months ago.
Unless Mignolet is seriously out-performed by Karius in pre-season, he should again start the campaign as Liverpool’s first choice goalkeeper but he will certainly know that with the new man around he simply cannot afford the sort of dips in form he has had during the past few years.
The battle to be Liverpool’s first choice keeper could be a fascinating watch over the course of next season and the arrival of Loris Karius could either result in the making or breaking of Mignolet’s Reds career.
Written by Mark Sochon
Follow Mark on Twitter @tikitakagol
Check out his brilliant blog on all things La Liga, Tiki-Taka-Gol!
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