While questions loom over the resumption of the Premier League, Liverpool find themselves with questions over a rather curious case of the backup goalkeeper.
Alisson Becker is going nowhere, obviously, and up until the second leg of the Champions League Round of 16 tie against Atlético de Madrid the second-choice ‘keeper in Adrián has looked a comfortable option to replace Alisson on the not-so-odd occasion this season.
With concerns over the quality of our current backup options, is Jürgen Klopp better off by putting his faith in Alisson’s current understudies, or should he look to the transfer market when it opens?
As things stand Adrián has another year under contract and, if I had to guess, will likely see that contract out at Liverpool barring any unforeseen shake-up.
The 33-year-old has been fairly solid, but hasn’t been free from error in his short time as a Red. Eyebrows were raised in Liverpool’s 2-1 victory over Southampton in August when Adrián passed the ball straight to ex-Red Danny Ings for a tap in. This was an early indication of what we would witness unfold in Europe months later.
Unfortunately as a ‘keeper every mistake is amplified ten-fold and, though Liverpool managed to sneak away with the three points away at St. Mary’s, we know all too well his next error in judgement was as costly as it gets for the Reds’ aspirations in the Champions League.
Most would agree that Adrián has been absolutely fine in filling in for Alisson most of the time — it’s those anomalous, Karius-esque judgements that remind Liverpool fans of the last decade or so where we haven’t had a reliable No.1 between the sticks.
That brings us to Loris Karius. The 26-year-old German keeper has reportedly just terminated his contract with Turkish side Beşiktaş and he will likely return to Merseyside where he will then either find another loan or be sold to the highest bidding club.
There’s not much else that needs to be said here that, unfortunately for Karius, hasn’t already been plastered all over social media. He had his chance and didn’t make the grade at Anfield and it’s best for all parties that everyone moves on.
Other options that are already on Liverpool’s books that could be a surprise No.2 next season are Kamil Grabara, on-loan at Championship strugglers Huddersfield Town, and Republic of Ireland youth international Caoimhín Kelleher.
The latter is better placed to make the jump. The 21-year-old has made four senior appearances for Liverpool — three in the League Cup and the other in the FA Cup — and has performed admirably when called upon, despite some shaky moments.
I don’t think, however, that a club the size of Liverpool are ready to take a gamble on the youngster just yet and make him full-time backup to Alisson, so I think it’d be best to see him get as many minutes as possible with the u23s or perhaps even find himself a loan in the Championship if possible next season.
The likely outcome is that Adrián sticks around for one more year following this season. Although he’s prone to errors, he’s a solid, experienced backup goalkeeper — prior to his Champions League blip many were claiming the Spaniard would be walk into almost any Premier League side as their first-choice shot-stopper.
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It’s unlikely the Reds will take to the transfer market to bolster this area of the squad, as the options we have available should be adequate enough cover, even if they do represent a significant drop in quality for Alisson.
But that’s the problem when you have the best goalkeeper in the world at your disposal — it’s impossible to get another world-class player as backup, as they won’t be willing to watch on from the sidelines.
An experienced professional like Adrián and a young hot prospect like Kelleher is about as good as the situation is going to get.