Inter Milan goalkeeper Samir Handanovic has reportedly emerged as a possible summer transfer target for Liverpool, with manager Jurgen Klopp said to be unconvinced by both Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius.
According to Corriere dello Sport (h/t Football Italia), the Reds are pondering a potential bid for the Slovenia international, who has excelled since joining Inter in 2012. The Serie A side would not be keen on a sale, although it’s suggested they would cash in for the right price, with the 32-year-old tempted by the prospect of the Premier League.
If Liverpool were to strike a deal for Handanovic, they’d be getting a wonderful stopper. Here’s a look at what he would add between the sticks:
The goalkeeping position at Anfield has been a topic of contention for much of the campaign. Mignolet currently has the gloves and has done a solid job when called upon without being spectacular. In reserve is Karius, who was given a chance earlier in the campaign before being dropped by Klopp.
Here is a look at how Handanovic compares to the two Liverpool goalkeepers statistically in league matches this season:
|Average goals conceded||1.05||1.23||1.20|
|Average saves per game||2.86||1.46||1.40|
|Average claim success||95%||83%||75%|
Although Inter are enjoying a resurgence under head coach Stefano Pioli—they’ve won their last seven Serie A matches—their goalkeeper, along with striker Mauro Icardi, have been the most consistent players in the squad.
Per WhoScored.com, in terms of shot-stopping, Handanovic is one of the best in Serie A:
Best save success in Serie A this term (50+ shots):
Da Costa (81.4%)
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) January 16, 2017
There’s more to the Inter man’s game than the average ‘keeper. While he is adept at clawing shots out of corners, he’s also a commanding presence in the box and a smart distributor. He’s also excellent when it comes to facing set pieces; Handanovic has stopped seven penalty kicks since the start of the 2014-15 season, according to Transfermarkt.
He looks as though he’d be an upgrade on Mignolet. The Belgium international has been in decent form overall this term, although there’s a sense that if Liverpool are keen to push on and challenge for the top honours, a ‘keeper of world-class pedigree is needed.
Mignolet’s Liverpool career was epitomised in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea. First he was caught off guard embarrassingly for David Luiz’s opening goal, and then in the second half, he sprung into action to stop a Diego Costa penalty.
Tony Barrett of Joe.co.uk summed up the goalkeeper’s evening:
Good save by Mignolet who benefitted from looking at the shot as it was taken. That could catch on.
— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarrett) January 31, 2017
Plenty at Anfield have high hopes for Karius, although when he was made first choice by Klopp, he struggled. Still, he’s clearly a talented goalkeeper, and at 23, he has a lot of developing to do.
Of the two current goalkeepers available to Klopp, it’s the German who has the higher ceiling and the brighter long-term future. For now, though, Mignolet is a safer bet, and given the Reds are in a fight to secure a UEFA Champions League spot, it’s likely he’ll be entrusted with the gloves for the remainder of the season.
If Liverpool are in the Champions League and do want to challenge for the Premier League title in 2017-18, a goalkeeper of Handanovic’s calibre is required. But given just how crucial he is to this Inter side, it’s likely he would be a costly purchase.