Loris Karius has regularly been a much maligned character since joining the Reds from Mainz in the summer of 2016.
However, since the German managed to make the number one jersey his earlier in the season, he has regularly displayed to fans how much he has improved.
The Karius that we watch play now, is a far cry from the young keeper who started the 2016/17 season. The shakiness has disappeared from his game, and there has even been a few spectacular saves.
The fantastic curling effort from Everton’s Yannick Bolasie comes to mind, as does his stop for Diame’s goalbound strike against Newcastle.
Apart from the Newcastle save, I think this was Karius’s best save of the season.
If Klopp sticks with him next season, I hope we see a lot more of this level. pic.twitter.com/z2WQ1Q5H6G
— LFC Podcasting Couch (@PodcastingCouch) June 1, 2018
The usual errors that Liverpool fans once associated with the former German U21 keeper were nowhere to be seen, and yet the fears of a calamity remained.
Finally, on the biggest stage in club football, Reds fans worst fears were realised. Not one, but two mistakes against Real Madrid.
The first, Karius throwing the ball off Karim Benzema’s outstretched leg, into his own goal. The second, a speculative effort from Wales’ Gareth Bale, fumbled by Karius and into his own goal once more.
The backlash that he faced after that game was ruthless, and in many cases, completely unnecessary. Death threats, not just directed towards Karius, but also his family. Mocked by his own fans, rival fans, and even the media. Not 10 years ago Karius’ compatriot and fellow keeper Robert Enke, who suffered from depression, committed suicide. They might just be words, but they can affect someone much more than we know.
On the face of it, these two errors wouldn’t have been a shock from Karius last season, and even earlier this season. An inexperienced keeper wilting under the lights of the Olimpiyskiy Stadium, in the biggest game of his career.
But with the steps he made this season, such errors seemed uncharacteristic.
In the end, Liverpool, without star man Mo Salah, succumbed to a 3-1 defeat, with many placing the blame largely on Karius. They were probably correct to do so– and he knew it. After the final whistle, at just 24 years of age, Karius, in a flood of tears approached the travelling Kop to apologise.
Karius in tears, apologizes to Liverpool fans pic.twitter.com/sU3za6UaIu
— Ahmed Al Omran (@ahmed) May 26, 2018
Moments later, in a post-match interview, Karius uttered six heart-breaking words: “I don’t feel anything right now.”
It took the keeper nearly 24 hours to address the fans directly through social media, opening with: ” Haven’t really slept until now…”
A simple, but clear message which demonstrated just how much that game, and this club, mean to him.
Now, just over a week later another twist to an already drama filled Champions League final.
After having tests done in Boston, USA, 26 of the 30 tests Karius took came back positive. The reason for the concussion? An elbow to the face from Sergio Ramos. As if Reds fans needed another reason to despise the Real Madrid and Spain defender.
Somehow, a faction of Liverpool fans are managing to pin the blame on Karius once more. As though he should be aware he has concussion. Speaking from experience, it’s not always obvious that you are concussed. Furthermore, Karius is a goalkeeper, I’m fairly certain that nowhere in his contract does it state: “You should also be able to self-diagnose concussion, even though you might not even be aware you have it.”
At the time, just minutes before Real’s first goal, Karius made the referee aware that he had been struck in the head. Not only did the culprit face no repercussions, but the referee decided to not stop the game to allow Karius to get checked by a physio.
Imagine if the governing bodies of football WEREN’T trying to stop major head injuries.
That being said, the game is over, what’s done is done, and we’ll beat them in Madrid next season anyway.
The real question is, what’s next for Loris Karius?
In my humble opinion, Karius was a player on the up. Two errors, no matter the magnitude of the errors, should not call for him to be scrapped completely.
The facts are, he kept 16 clean sheets last season, and had it not been for a concussion, it’s extremely unlikely that Karius would have made those errors. The game could have gone completely differently, and we wouldn’t even be discussing Karius – we’d be much to euphoric.
Given the level of his performances as we got further into the season, it doesn’t make sense to throw £80m+ at a new keeper, purely because of one match. UNLESS, it’s a clear improvement, and a keeper that we can rely on for around a decade. Even in today’s market, £80m for a keeper is far too much, especially when we can invest that elsewhere in the squad.
Stick by Karius, but that’s just my opinion.