As the euphoria of victory over Manchester City is wearing off, Liverpool need to analyse the result closely. The Reds were fantastic. The energy and effort put in displayed that Manchester City are beatable.
Yet, after all the wonderful play, Klopp will have also noted a number of problems. Once again, a team were allowed to get back into the game. The return of £70 million signing Virgil van Dijk will help with this. However, the same cannot be said for Liverpool’s long-running problems in goal.
Karius Now Number One
“Yes, he is the new number one.” With this statement to DAZN after the match, Klopp confirmed Loris Karius is going to be given his chance. Brushing aside the goalkeeper’s indifferent performance, Klopp said:
“With goalkeepers you have to commit yourself, in other positions you can change, as you want, and we do now – Loris is now in it.”
Clearly, a confident Karius offers many positives to the Liverpool side. His speed of distribution helps in the counter-attacking style Liverpool employ. He is far quicker off his line than Simon Mignolet. He will allow Liverpool to play with a much higher defensive line.
Yet, he is unable to make saves expected of a top-class goalkeeper. This was highlighted by Manchester City’s first goal, where he was beaten on his near post.
Liverpool are currently sitting on a mountain of money after the sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona. Thomas Lemar, Riyad Mahrez and almost every over attacking player has been linked to Liverpool in the last week. However, Liverpool still have Sadio Mane and Mohammed Salah, enough to rip Manchester City apart. Replacing the goalkeeper is a far more pressing issue.
Here we look at the alternatives available:
Jack Butland – Stoke City
Stoke are currently in a perilous position, flirting with relegation and managerless. However, they would be in a far worse position if not for Jack Butland. The Englishman, still only 24, has proven himself to be a top Premier League goalkeeper.
At 6 ft 5″, Butland is huge. However, he is not just a big keeper. His speed off the line is one of his greatest assets. For his size and frame, Butland is athletic and sweeps up danger well. He commands his area and is comfortable coming for the ball.
Butland is not the greatest shot-stopper. He saves what a goalkeeper should save. However, he rarely does the impossible; the saves that the best goalkeepers somehow manage to do. He also has a spotty injury record, which would cause concern, especially with the fee that Stoke would demand. With a contract until 2021, Stoke would hold out for a British transfer record fee.
Jan Oblak – Atletico Madrid
Oblak had the unenviable task of replacing local star David de Gea at Atletico Madrid. Yet after arriving in 2014, he established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
Only 25-years-old, he has won admirers with his huge performances for Atletico, helping them reach two Champions League finals. Oblak commands his area and makes fantastic saves. Importantly, he has experience at a top side where maintaining concentration is just as key as ability.
Madrid play with a deep defence and don’t leave Oblak exposed. It is therefore difficult to judge how he would deal with a defence who play a high line. Oblak would have to sweep up far more than he does now. His ability on the ball is not his greatest asset and would need to improve.
Oblak is also tied down to a long contract. Madrid would most likely demand his release clause be met. With speculation of a £100 million clause in the contract, Liverpool would need to shatter the current goalkeeper transfer record to get the Serbian international. Previously this would seemingly end speculation, but after breaking the defender world record signing van Dijk, maybe Oblak is not a step too far.
Alisson – Roma
Alisson has had a fast rise to prominence in Rome. Originally joining in the summer of 2016, he was behind Wojciech Szczęsny. Although indifferent for Arsenal, Szczęsny’s form for Roma won him a transfer to Juventus. Alisson’s performances in the Champions League meant that when Szczęsny left, Roma put their faith in the Brazillian.
They have not regretted their decision. Alisson has proved himself to be one of the best goalkeepers in Seria A. As a Brazilian, the immediate comparison made is to his compatriot Ederson. However, Alisson is a more rounded goalkeeper. He is not the amazing sweeper keeper that Manchester City have, however, he has a better level of concentration and an all-around game that won him the starting spot for the national team.
A deal with Roma will be hard for Liverpool to negotiate. Liverpool were able to apply pressure due to financial-fair-play and forced a low fee for Salah. Roma would most likely look to recoup some of the lost Salah money on any future transfer between the clubs. This could force the fee up and make Alisson too costly for what he would bring.
Gianluigi Donnarumma:- AC Milan
It is unusual for a goalkeeper to play a first team game before they are 21. Donnarumma has made 93 appearances for AC Milan and he is still only 18 years old. The heir apparent to the Italian national team, Donnarumma has more in common with Gianluigi Buffon than just their first name.
Just like Buffon, Donnarumma was thrust into the spotlight incredibly young and hasn’t shrunk under the pressure. A great shot stopper with excellent reflexes, Donnarumma looks likely to become one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He certainly has the stature for it, at 6 ft 5″ at 18, he hasn’t swapped height for speed and is fast off the line.
Yet, he isn’t the finished article and has some holes in his game. His distribution isn’t fantastic, and his concentration can slip. There are also the complications that would come with trying to make this transfer happen. Donnarumma has an uncomfortable relationship with the AC Milan supporters. His unwillingness to sign a contract extension angered many in Milan. However, in the end, he did sign and although there has been speculation over the contract, Donnarumma has sought to play down any issues. It would, therefore, take an enormous fee to bring him to Anfield. However, with Milan searching for a forward and links to Sturridge appearing, maybe Liverpool could pull this off.
Alban Lafont – Toulouse
If Liverpool are looking at the next great Italian goalkeeper, they should also look at the next French one. Alban Lafont is the talented shot-stopper at Toulouse. Lafont has already made 80 appearances in the top French division and like Donnarumma is still only 18.
Incredibly athletic, Lafont is reminiscent of a young David de Gea. He has a similar frame and like de Gea, he is able to make stops that look impossible. He is extremely athletic and fast off his line. However, he is a rough diamond, not as far along in his development as Donnarumma. He sometimes pushes the ball into dangerous areas when making saves. His concentration level fluctuates. However, he is an undeniably huge talent and the current French Under 20 Goalkeeper.
Playing for Toulouse, Liverpool would be confident of being able to make a deal. Links to other Premier League teams mean that Liverpool may face competition. The question is whether Klopp is willing to develop a goalkeeper or wants the finished article right now.