According to the headlines and stories emerging yesterday, Liverpool’s current third choice keeper is set to get a chance over the next few weeks. The aim will be to prove he’s capable of being the club’s number one for the coming season.
Cue social media meltdown. Some fans were horrified by this prospect, viewing it as a cop out and a half measure at best.
However, trying hard to read between the lines, this could be yet more posturing from the club. It’s very important to be smart in these situations, and perhaps that’s what Klopp and Liverpool are trying to do.
Silly season and crazy money
We should all take a moment to remember that the transfer window is wide open. This is coupled with the fact that there is currently still a World Cup going on, which is always a reliable factor in ratcheting up the price of a player.
More than this, though, it will be firmly on the mind of every club Liverpool speak to this summer that they have a, situation, shall we say, with our goalkeepers. This will be further inflating their valuations as we make tentative approaches for their number ones.
With this is in mind, it is important to take the stories surrounding Danny Ward and Alisson Becker with more than a pinch of salt. Liverpool’s cold water throwing over the hot coals of transfer rumours could be a deliberate ploy to avoid being ripped off. We will get ripped off either way, but you have to credit the club for a least trying to get value for money.
Three goalies, no number one
It’s hard to recall a time when the goalkeeper situation at Liverpool was as dire as it currently is. The rumours surrounding Ward, Karius and a potential new recruit are, at times, dizzying.
However, there is further reason to be skeptical about the Ward story. Klopp has publicly backed his recruit, Loris Karius, since his Kiev blunders, hinting at his willingness to stick with the stricken shot stopper. It would be bizarre and out of character for the manager to say one thing one day, only to change his mind the next. You would expect him to stick to his guns.
Besides, if he does elect to give Ward a chance, then that will be the third time he’s swapped his number one in less than twelve months. Hardly encouraging for the current recruits and unsettling for the back four, it’s a policy which would have many wincing at the juggling act on display between three keepers, none of whom have looked convincing at number one.
Ultimately, despite the gossip, stories and social media maelstrom, Liverpool are highly likely to sign a keeper this summer.
Ward is a capable player. His handling looks good, as does his mentality. He looked assured when thrown in the deep end for Wales in 2016. Starting against Slovakia in the first major tournament game for the Welsh since 1958, Ward composed himself with poise and showed that he has got some real quality.
However, at twenty-five, he is seriously inexperienced. That has to be the big question mark when considering him for the number one spot. The pressure at Liverpool next season will be immense. Mistakes from any player will be under the magnifying glass. Is Ward, with his minimal experience at this level ready for that scrutiny?
Liverpool could do well from taking a leaf out of Manchester United’s book and turn to experience. Sir Alex Ferguson’s signing of then thirty-five year old Fulham keeper Edwin van de Sar was a masterstroke. After years of false starts with keepers, the Dutchman provided world-class service for six years, and was the bedrock of the second greatest team built by Ferguson at United.
Granted, it will be highly unlikely to find another Van de Sar, an experienced keeper with real quality. Mingolet is likely to depart and so we will almost certainly avoid go into the campaign with only Karius and Ward as options. If only Pepe hadn’t gone to AC…