Monday 15 July 2019

Comment: Liverpool's mega bid for Alisson has confirmed end of Loris Karius' spell as Anfield number one

Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius
Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius

Chris Bascombe

If Liverpool complete a world record deal for Roma goalkeeper Alisson, there should be a smidgen of sympathy for the club’s current number one.

Danny Ward’s promotion will have lasted little more than a week.

Until such time the formalities are complete, Ward is Anfield's first choice. He is pencilled in to start against West Ham on the opening Premier League weekend, but given the events of the last 24 hours it is highly unlikely he will start the season.

If Loris Karius was already aware of the precariousness of his situation, the £67 million deal for the Brazil international leaves no doubt about his current standing.

Jurgen Klopp has been supportive of his German keeper, not only in the immediate aftermath of his terrible Champions League final performance, but upon his return to pre-season training.

He was hardly going to endorse a public hanging of his goalkeeper post-Kiev.

But such backing is never unconditional.

Liverpool hoped Karius would deliver a positive message when he returned from his summer break.

That he would get back to Melwood with a belligerent attitude, prepared to take on the world and prove the Champions League Final an aberration.

That he would prove himself mentally and technically ready to deal with the hyper-critical, forensic examination of his performances.

Liverpool wanted to see icy steel. What they saw was the wistful ‘Blue Steel’ stare of Derek Zoolander in one of those Instagram posts.

Much more significantly - far more worrying - what they saw was another dreadful error in a pre-season game.

Instead of swelling confidence perceptions could be reversed sooner rather than later, Liverpool experienced a harrowing preview of what is in store if they persist with the 25-year-old. The mockery of League Two fans has been comical but embarrassing during the club’s first warm-up games.

Even though it has been more teasing than aggressive, palpable edginess provoked the mistake against Tranmere Rovers last week. In isolation, a shocker in a meaningless game deserves passing reference. In context, it is another sign of an unsustainable situation that can only be fixed longer-term – and certainly not before August 11.

Karius must repair his reputation and his career, but Liverpool cannot afford to risk losing points during his restoration.

Imagine the hostility of Selhurst Park during the first away fixture - Monday Night Football - next month?

Imagine it at every away venue?

Imagine the incredulity of The Kop during any home game where Karius is unconvincing?

For three years, Klopp and Liverpool’s recruiters have spent big and well to address several flaws in their team. When Klopp arrived in October 2015, the team had scored more than one goal in just one of their previous ten games. That has been remedied with the most lethal front three in Europe last season.

A year ago the need for a dominant centre-back led Liverpool to make Virgil Van Dijk the most expensive in history. The defence was unrecognisable from January.

Midfield reinforcement has arrived in Fabinho, and although the search for a number ten continues, Naby Keita should add some of the trickery and guile lost when Philippe Coutinho was sold.

Only unreliable goalkeeping is a weakness. Klopp has known it for a while – his switching between Simon Mignolet betrayed his thoughts as much as the first move for Alisson last January.

Liverpool are paying an extraordinary price to correct a problem which, in truth, has lingered since Pepe Reina left – and even his last three seasons were poor.

Karius is young enough to get over it, but until then his immediate future will include more of those contemplative looks into the distance.

Online Editors

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