Why Jurgen Klopp is right to back Loris Karius
Jurgen Klopp once declared he would be the biggest idiot in football if Loris Karius was not a good goalkeeper and he continued to pick him for Liverpool FC. The German boss is ready to lay his cards on the table. He wants to prove the world wrong about his current number one.
Karius’ days in Liverpool seemed numbered following his two howlers in the Champions League final against Real Madrid. Links to Roma goalkeeper Alisson were plentiful. Most pundits agreed that finding a new goalkeeper was Liverpool’s number one priority for this summer transfer window.
But time heals all wounds. Slowly, fans have forgiven Karius for his mistakes, those concussion reports aiding his cause. Klopp is ready to stand by his man.
It may come back to haunt him. Even though many have forgiven, few have forgotten. The argument finds that, except for Arsenal, Liverpool are lacking in the goalkeeper department when compared to their top-six rivals.
Manchester City have Ederson, United De Gea. Chelsea have Courtois. Tottenham boast Lloris. Karius is far behind the quartet and the horror show in Kiev proved it. Yet, a look at the stats suggests Klopp may be onto something.
Karius managed 10 clean sheets in 19 games last season, the joint seventh-best total in the league despite only playing half the games.
His 14 goals conceded were the lowest in the top six. Double his appearances to represent a full season and he would have shipped fewer goals than Lloris and Courtois, one more than De Gea and two beyond Ederson.
When you move into per game statistics, the plot thickens.
The German goalkeeper had a better save per game ratio than Ederson and was only 0.27 per game behind Courtois. Only Lloris and De Gea were better.
Karius was the last man in the saves per shots on target peloton, behind Ederson, Lloris and Courtois. Surprise, De Gea left them all in the dust.
When it comes to punches, Karius comes out on top with a score of 0.58, Lloris his closest competitor with a score of 0.47 per game. Meanwhile, the Frenchman is the only goalkeeper who betters Karius’ 2.05 catches per game with a score of 2.33.
Stats may not mean much to some but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that with a full season under his belt, Karius could be posting similar numbers to his main rivals. Players who are allegedly far above his level.
Sticking by Karius makes sense financially for Liverpool, too. They have already spent big money on Fabinho and Naby Keita this summer. They spent a world record fee on Virgil Van Dijk in January.
To acquire a goalkeeper of the needed quality would take world record numbers, as well. Just look at the numbers that were touted for Alisson. They were nearly double the current mark. Even those below that level are likely to demand a fee that would raise serious doubts. Do Liverpool have that kind of money, given they are yet to post any sales this summer and have already spent big on improving their midfield? It seems unlikely.
Even if they do have a war chest available, they would be better served spending it on improving their squad as a whole rather than focusing on just the one position.
For example, a better defensive partner for Van Dijk and an adequate back-up for Roberto Firmino could be acquired for the money it would cost to sign a significant upgrade on Karius.
They could even use that money to find a much-needed replacement for Philippe Coutinho, should they fail in their drawn-out pursuit of Nabil Fekir. Improving their squad across the board would get them closer to the top of the table and that coveted Premier League title than improving the goalkeeper position would.
Ultimately it is down to Klopp. The German sees something in his compatriot and is willing to give him an opportunity at redemption. Karius' confidence and belief will need to be restored but if there is anyone capable of doing that it is the current Liverpool manager. Building confidence and belief is a key weapon in his arsenal.
There are several reasons why sticking with Karius is a smart decision. His stats stand up. Financially it is beneficial.
Only time will tell if this is a wise transfer decision. It may be a long, difficult time.