It is disheartening after a Champions League final of jaw-dropping moments to be focused on negatives, but the nature of the final for Liverpool makes it unavoidable. Mohamed Salah’s injury at the hands of Sergio Ramos affected both the game and Egypt’s World Cup chances, but it is Loris Karius who provided two of the jaw-dropping moments who has become the focal point in the aftermath of Real Madrid’s 3-1 victory over Liverpool. Culpable for two of the goals, although faultless for Gareth Bale’s stunning overhead kick, Karius’ future at Liverpool has been brought into question. The answer to that question may well be the signing of Brazilian international Alisson.
Alisson on the way?
Roma’s Brazilian goalkeeper was already a significant transfer target of Liverpool’s before the Champions Leauge final, but the demand for his services at Anfield has increased as reported by The Guardian. With that increased desire will likely come an increased price tag, with Roma’s awareness of his newfound level of importance for Liverpool making for a strong negotiating position. A price tag of around €60 million was deemed too hefty by Liverpool in January, which is an admirable display of frugality from a club that spent £36 million on Andy Carroll. Using the statistics at WhoScored as a barometer for form and ability, Alisson’s average rating of 6.99 in across 3330 minutes of football demonstrates that this is an investment worth making for Liverpool.
Alisson has emerged as one of the game’s leading goalkeepers, having cut his teeth in a successful Internacional side in his homeland before heading to Italy to ultimately usurp Wojciech Szczesny in the Roma goal. At 25 years old, Alisson offers long-term security as well as scope for further growth. It would be a massive psychological benefit for Liverpool to capture the player who keeps Manchester City’s Ederson out of the Brazilian goal, with Liverpool having serious ambitions of becoming the biggest domestic challenger to Pep Guardiola’s side next season. As of May 28th, Liverpool are 6/1 with Betway to win the Premier League title next season, but their chances will improve with a consistently dependable goalkeeper to call upon. The other title chasers can name a global superstar as their number one, and Liverpool will have to be ruthless and act quickly to snap up Alisson if they are to close the gap to a formidable Manchester City side.
Sympathy for Karius
It is difficult to see how Karius can bounce back to become a trustworthy number one in Liverpool colours. It should be impossible to not feel a strong sense of sympathy for Loris Karius, with the errors exclusively his fault on one of the biggest sporting stages in the world. Jermaine Pennant’s bizarre outburst may represent how some have failed to empathise with Karius’ plight, but most sporting aficionados would have preferred the match to have been won as a consequence of terrific play rather than terrifically bad play. It feels peculiar to suggest that anything could take the gloss of a goal as magnificent as Bale’s first, but the final will equally be remembered for the brace of mistakes rather than the Welshman’s staggering finish.
Karius had appeared to establish himself as Jurgen Klopp’s trusted occupant of the Liverpool goal. Fending off the competition of Simon Mignolet is not exactly a battle tantamount to a clash of titans, but Karius had responded to most of his doubters by demonstrating why Liverpool had brought him to Anfield as a highly-rated goalkeeper with tremendous potential. Mignolet started the year as Liverpool’s first-choice goalkeeper, but the game on New Year’s Day was the Belgian’s only Premier League outing in 2018. Karius started the other 16 matches, keeping 8 clean sheets in a run that showed a player growing in confidence.
At 24, Karius is a young man who has shown tremendous mental fortitude in so publicly and bravely apologising on social media. He certainly does not deserve to be the victim of vile threats from moronic “fans”, with the BBC reporting on some horrendous behaviour completely devoid of perspective and humanity. While his mistakes were considerable on a footballing scale, they do not reflect a lack of effort on Karius’ part. Goalkeeper is a position in which one mistake of any form is likely to lead to a goal, with that responsibility requiring a great deal of self-assurance. This is why Liverpool have been heavily linked with Alisson, with the next stage of Karius’ career placed in doubt. Karius is young enough and good enough to forge a successful career at a high level, but the Liverpool red may hold too many bad memories for fans and player to remain a viable option.