On October 2nd. 2016, Scott Salter wrote about the importance of providing Loris Karius time. Going in to next season, Jurgen Klopp faces a difficult decision with regards to his number one. Does he stick with Simon Mignolet, give Loris Karius a chance, or look for a replacement?
Three games played, three games won. It’s been a solid if unspectacular start at Liverpool for Loris Karius. Despite a 100% win record, the German has come under criticism from some sections of the Liverpool faithful.
Some feel as though Karius has been unconvincing and have called for Belgian keeper Simon Mignolet to be restored to the starting line-up. Many of these fans are the same fans who have been calling for Liverpool to replace the Belgian for some time. Sure, Karius has been nothing more than okay in his opening three games, but why give up on him so soon?
Solid, if unspectacular. It’s an age old saying, but it sums up Karius’ three games in a red shirt perfectly. Has Karius made any real errors? No, not really. Sure, he’s looked suspect once or twice, but this is a young goalkeeper still finding his feet in a new league. At Swansea, Karius made some good saves, was happy to have the ball and was vocal with his defence. There were a few moments in which he should’ve stayed on his line and should’ve been more commanding in coming for the ball, but this did not lead to a goal. Those putting the blame for Leroy Fer’s opener on his shoulders are unreasonable: the touch off Dejan Lovren was vital in taking Karius out of the game and, from that point, there wasn’t much the German could’ve done to prevent the subsequent tap-in.
Jurgen Klopp vowed to judge his goalkeeping situation after this international break and to do so based on form. For that reason many, including Tony Barrett, have called for Mignolet to be restored to the starting line-up. But, by literal form comparison, that would be ill-deserved. In his six games this year, the Belgian has conceded eight goals. German Karius has conceded just two in three games. In Mignolet’s first two league games, he conceded five goals. Karius conceded just two. With the ball on the deck, an attribute fans have been calling for in a goalkeeper, Karius is far superior. With a pass completion of 89% and distribution accuracy of 87% (compared to Mignolet’s 75% and 74%), the German is a better suited to Klopp’s style of play.
It’s worth persevering, too. In 2011, Manchester United signed a young David De Gea from Atletico Madrid for £17.8million. The young Spaniard was seen as one of Europe’s top young goalkeepers and was recruited to replace Edwin Van Der Sar at Old Trafford. The young keeper struggled initially at Old Trafford. Many, including us Reds in Merseyside, were laughing at our rivals for splashing so much on a suspect keeper. But United kept the faith in David De Gea; they continued to play him, they worked on his game, they improved his physicality and he is now one of the best goalkeepers in the World. While impossible to accurately predict his progression, Liverpool should show the same faith in Karius with the hope of potentially reaping the similar rewards.
It is easy to forget that Loris Karius is just 23-years old. The German is young for any player, but goalkeeper’s mature at an especially slow rate. The German may have spent two years at Manchester City’s academy, but he is still adapting to life in a new country and learning a new style of play. The Premier League is much more physical than the German Bundesliga, so it will take Karius some time to adapt. The potential is there, though. Karius was voted the joint best-goalkeeper in the Bundesliga last year and that’s the kind of accolade which warrants some patience.