It’s no secret that Liverpool need a goalkeeper.
Not only does Jurgen Klopp have two keepers of reasonably similar levels of ability and, indeed, of calamity, but he switches them around frequently. Loris Karius appears to be the current long-term choice, but that seems to change from month to month.
It could well be a case of fiddling while Rome burns. Karius was considered to have been at fault for Leroy Sane’s equaliser when the game was tied up at 1-1 against Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday. But for the moment, it looks like the German will keep the gloves. You have to wonder what that changes for the Reds.
With the January transfer in full flow, it looks unlikely that Liverpool will go for a replacement this month. And you’d think that it would be unlikely that they’d go for a keeper if Karius did relatively well from now until the end of the season. But that only serves to highlight the fact that Jurgen Klopp should be pushing for a goalkeeper sooner rather than later.
This winter, the transfer of Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao to Real Madrid has been one of the sagas of the window. The Basque keeper can leave the club on a free at the end of the season, but the Champions League winners are supposed to be interested in acquiring his services in January, paying the £20m release clause.
What’s interesting, though, is that ZInedine Zidane has been reticent against signing a new goalkeeper for quite some time, placing his faith in Keylor Navas, so it seems as though there’s some form of power struggle going on at the Bernabeu with regard to whether or not the club should sign a new stopper.
Liverpool should use that uncertainty to swoop in.
The £20m figure quoted in the Daily Mail at the end of December would be nothing for a club who have just had the Philippe Coutinho windfall, and an upgrade on their goalkeepers should certainly be a priority which allows them to pay a little bit over the odds to bring Kepa in now instead of in the summer on a free – when he’ll probably move to Madrid anyway.
In terms of goalkeeping ability, it’s clear that the 23-year-old is in a league above those already at Anfield. He has been reliable at a good top flight club since his breakthrough last season. This time around, despite the fact that Bilbao find themselves in 12th whilst Liverpool are third, the Basques have conceded just 20 goals compared with the 28 that Klopp’s side have shipped.
That’s certainly not all down to the goalkeeper, and indeed the mere fact that Burnley have conceded fewer goals than Liverpool is hardly a reason to out and buy Nick Pope, who’s deputised in the absence of the injured Tom Heaton.
This season, Kepa has claimed more crosses than either of Liverpool’s two keepers, and his ability will only get better, as at a relatively young age, he can still improve a great deal.
Perhaps, though, the same can be said for Karius. At only 24 years of age, the German has time to improve. From his early Liverpool career, though, that doesn’t look like an overly promising possibility.
It is likely that the Reds will buy a goalkeeper this summer, but if they have an eye on Kepa, waiting that long might not be an option. Instead, a quick swoop to steal him from under the noses of Real Madrid who seem to be dithering might be the best option.