By Hani Na’eem – @hani_eem
With the winter transfer window now shut, Liverpool’s business, as expected, involved more departures than arrivals.
Jurgen Klopp has opted not to sign any player, but he offloaded a few players deemed surplus to requirements. Both Dominic Solanke and Nathaniel Clyne joined Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth – the latter on loan.
Youngsters Ovie Ejaria and Pedro Chirivella also went on loan to Reading and Extremadura respectively while forgotten man Lazar Markovic finally ended his time at Liverpool by joining Fulham.
Liverpool fans can now speculate about summer transfer business and will expect a number of new signings. However, more players with marginal roles will still be expected to leave.
Adam Lallana, Daniel Sturridge, Alberto Moreno, and Divock Origi are all players that have had small parts to play so far this season, and people expect them to leave in the next transfer window.
There is a slightly different scenario with backup goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, however – the Belgian has zero minutes in the Premier League this season, with Alisson Becker justifying his price tag with great performances between the sticks.
Mignolet, however, has stayed patient and professional enough not to create any fuss about his lack of involvement. He recently spoke about his diminishing role at Liverpool and expressed his admiration for his Brazilian teammate in goal. It seemed reasonable, in January at least, to keep him as a backup option for Alisson.
All this being said, I think it’s in both Liverpool’s and Mignolet’s interest that the 30-year-old leave this summer.
From the club’s perspective, the impact of a younger, more promising goalkeeper shouldn’t be underestimated. Right now, the goalkeeper position is definitely secure with Alisson showing impressive displays in the league, but rotation in the local cup competitions seems to be the standard – all the top teams do it.
Mignolet has had his chances this season in those competitions. Arguably, his performances against Chelsea and, more particularly, Wolves were strong reminders of his proneness to mistakes in front of goal. He just keeps proving that he is simply unreliable, and the club could do with a backup option that offers more in these competitions.
Mignolet himself will be pondering his options during the summer transfer market. At 30 years of age, the Belgian still has a few years in his career and will undoubtedly be looking to exploit them.
Despite his Liverpool career being closer to a failure than to success, Mignolet’s qualities should be enough to attract the interest of a number of other clubs. After all, Barcelona were allegedly interested in acquiring his services!
It is always sad to see a player leave Liverpool on a low, and Mignolet is no different. His debut penalty save against Stoke City meant he quickly entered our hearts. Sadly, his performances since then probably mean his future lies elsewhere.
Mignolet’s future – ‘If I’m honest, I’d rather have Karius back’
Simon Mignolet signed for Liverpool in the Summer of 2013 for £9m from Sunderland. He is now Liverpool’s third longest serving senior player – behind Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson.
The Belgian shot-stopper was brought in to replace the outbound fan-favourite Pepe Reina and, since his arrival at the club, he has conceded 239 goals and kept 66 clean sheets over 204 competitive appearances. In comparison, Reina appeared 395 times for the Reds, keeping 177 clean sheets and conceding 341 goals.
When looking at the stats of both keepers, it is clear to see that Reina is the superior keeper. In fact, that Spanish stopper kept a clean sheet in 44% of his appearances and left the club with a ratio of 0.8 goals conceded per game, despite playing almost double as much as Mignolet – who currently has a percentage of 32% clean sheets and a ratio of 1.2 goals per game.
Mignolet’s time at Anfield has been typified by indecisiveness and countless errors which, in recent times, has had Liverpool fans up in arms about his status at the club. With the signing of Loris Karius back in 2016, many believed that Mignolet’s time at the club was up – but we all know how that worked out.
After the Champions League final last season, it was clearer than ever that Liverpool needed to buy a top-class goalkeeper – step forward Alisson Becker. The Brazilian’s arrival at the club signalled the end for either Mignolet or Karius.
To the surprise of most people (including myself and Mignolet), it was Karius who was sent away, with Mignolet himself coming out publicly questioning as to why he wasn’t the goalkeeper which was allowed to leave.
Jürgen Klopp criticised Mignolet’s decision to speak out but, since then, has had only praise for the 30-year-old stopper, picking up on the Belgian’s professionalism as he continues to work hard in training to push Alisson.
Football is a crazy and unpredictable game. The thing that typifies that more than ever, in my opinion, is the change in fan reaction towards Mignolet. It’s clear that he shouldn’t be anywhere near the starting spot. However, as a ‘No.2’ and back-up to Alisson, Red’s fans seem pretty happy having the Belgian to call upon.
I, for one, agree with the current general consensus and going into next season – I wouldn’t mind having Mignolet as back-up. If I was being picky, I would rather have us re-sign Reina, but that does seem very unlikely at the moment.
The real question is whether or not Migs would be happy being back-up. In my opinion, the answer to that question is no.
Although he has been relatively well-behaved since his early-season outburst, the fact remains that he did want to leave, and I think that feeling remains. There was no chance that Liverpool were going to allow him to leave in January, but Summer is a different ball game.
I do believe that our number 22 will look for pastures new. Mignolet is not a world-class goalkeeper, but he still has what it takes to do a very decent job for a mid-table/relegation battling Premier League team. What is clear though is that, if he does choose to leave, then it would be necessary for us to buy someone with a bit of experience and similar quality.
Ultimately, I’m not too bothered at all what happens with Migs. I’ll leave you all with an unpopular opinion before I wrap this up. If I’m honest, I’d rather have Karius back. Before you all start burning jerseys and coming after me with pitch forks, let me give a brief explanation of my reasoning.
The German is younger and, aside from the Champions League Final, he was actually okay last season. He wouldn’t start, I’d have him return as back-up for our Brazilian God and, considering the fact that Migs has only played two games so far all season, I don’t think it’s that much of a risk.
The simple fact that he’s younger and has longer to run on his contract just means its more financially viable too. #BringLorisBack.
Nevertheless, I wouldn’t mind if Mignolet chose to stay; he’s a semi-solid back-up and far better than our reserve keepers of the past – I’m looking at you Charles Itandje. We’ll just have to wait and see what Big Simon chooses to do in Summer.