As human beings we all have our faults, weaknesses or blindspots. Be it unwarranted faith or confidence in a family member, co-worker or partner, we are all guilty, at some point in our lives, of missing or even plain ignoring the obvious red flags when all around us can see them. This is all a roundabout way of discussing Liverpool’s Lorius Karius, Jurgen Klopp, and what seems like a severe case of misguided faith in a player.
You might have seen that Karius made yet another glaring error leading to a goal this week. Thankfully it wasn’t on the level of his clangers in Kiev during Liverpool’s 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League final, but nonetheless an error worth discussing. It was at Tranmere’s Prenton Park for Liverpool’s second pre-season friendly. Liverpool were 3-1 up with minutes to play when Tranmere’s Ollie Norburn’s seemingly innocuous free kick was spilled by Karius. Jonny Smith tapped in an easy rebound. This was a no-pressure, friendly, the kind of game played at even slower pace than a SoccerAid match. Yet Karius’ error was revelatory.
Klopp said Karius “could” have saved the shot, but that it was “not easy to deal with”.
“Let’s carry on and make the best of all these situations by learning from them,” said Klopp.
It’s not hard to see why Klopp wants to see Karius be a success at Liverpool. This is a man famous for defending his players no matter what, so this is par for the cause. Add to the fact Karius is a fellow German signed from Mainz, one of Klopp’s former clubs, and it’s easy to see why he has become his manager’s personal pet project.
But there is a time to hold one’s hands up and realise an experiment simply isn’t working. Karius’ errors in the Champions League final were utterly avoidable – because he really shouldn’t have been playing in that game. There is a reason he began last season as second choice behind Simon Mignolet: the Belgian, for all his many flaws, is simply the better goalkeeper. There’s a reason Karius was utterly disappointing on his Premier League debut against Bournemouth in December 2016. People point to David de Gea’s shaky start at Manchester United but fail to acknowledge a crucial difference: at no point has Karius shown he is capable of being better. Despite his errors back then, it was clear de Gea was a great goalkeeper in the making.
With Mignolet set to depart Anfield, Klopp needs to take a decisive step and sign a goalkeeper capable of matching Liverpool’s grand ambitions. It’s not worth having a Ferrari in attack when there’s a Fiat in goal. Karius could one day become a good goalkeeper but that should be for a much lower club of a much lower profile, not Liverpool, who need a great ‘keeper.