English Premier League European Football

What now for Karius?

Loris Karius has just terminated his loan with Besiktas and his spell with the Turkish giants has been far from smooth sailing. In March 2019, the German stopper sought legal action after months of unpaid wages and in April 2019, the issue of unpaid salaries resurfaced again. Enough was enough for Karius. He pulled the plug on the loan after completing the majority of the deal. I applaud Karius’s actions. You need to stand up for yourself when you’re unfairly treated. Clubs should pay their players on time and since it’s a contractual obligation, there is no excuse. Yet, even though Karius’s actions are commendable, he is caught in a real pickle.

Most Liverpool fans despise him and they were happy when he left the club in August 2018. Alisson Becker had arrived at Anfield and he was to assume the number 1 spot in the team. The truth is, Alisson’s arrival from AS Roma signalled the end of Karius’s place in Liverpool starting line-up. More importantly, it confirmed that management had not forgiven him for his howlers against Real Madrid during the Champions League Final months before. Karius was responsible for two of the three goals that Madrid had scored that match. While Bale’s spectacular overhead strike was virtually impossible to save, the other two goals were rookie errors. Alisson was brought in because Liverpool had a team of world-class players in every position except for the goalkeeper one. Besides Karius they had options in Simon Mignolet, who was decent at times but also highly unreliable.

Karius was not always bad. He was fairly good that 2017/2018 season. In his 33 appearances, he kept 17 clean sheets. He exemplified moments of brilliance, uprooted Mignolet, and established himself as Liverpool’s first-choice keeper. However, he also made grievous errors that cost his side the match – the most unforgivable one coming from the Champions League final. Liverpool fans were fed up with Karius by that point, and the club’s decision to sign Alisson indicated that so too were the board. As a Manchester United fan, I hate to admit that since his arrival, Alisson has been spectacular in goal for the Reds. It is gut-wrenching for me to say this but I feel that he has been a better goalkeeper than David de Gea for the past two seasons.There is no way Karius is going to replace the Brazilian international.

So what then? Where does Karius go from here?

At least to me, he has three options:

  1. Playing Backup
  2. Another Loan Move Away
  3. A Transfer Away

Playing Backup to Alisson (and potentially Adrian)

Would Karius be content with playing backup to Alisson? Honestly, I don’t think so. Karius is only 26 and while he has many years ahead of him before he retires, he would want some consistent game time. At Besiktas, Karius played 31 games this season and 35 games the previous campaign. He is used to 30-game seasons and he may get restless adapting to life on the sidelines.

Yet, Liverpool boast a wealth of options that they can remain competitive in almost every competition they play in. Squad rotation is vital for the squad and Karius represents a decent option for cup and less important Champions League fixtures. Moreover, as we have seen this season, Alisson could potentially get injured, which could marshal Karius into the first team once again.

However, Karius has to compete with Adrian for the backup spot. Or would he? When Alisson got injured, Adrian was fielded instead and his performances have been inconsistent. He has become a walking meme to some extent. If Karius is content with playing second fiddle to Alisson, he may very well have a chance due to some abysmal performances by Adrian. Just take a look at the Spaniard’s howler against Atletico Madrid that resulted in Liverpool crashing out of the Champions League (which they are reigning Champions of). Adrian appears to be past his peak and a move back to Spain may suit him best.

A loan move away to stake his claim for the number one spot

Playing second fiddle seems like a stretch in all honesty only because Karius would probably be unhappy. How about another loan move then? His loan spell was alright but wasn’t spectacular. He needs to prove his worth some way which is why moving on loan to another Premier League side might be ideal.

I have taken some inspiration from Dean Henderson’s loan at Sheffield United. Moving to another Premier League club allows your parent team to assess your performances against the same opposition they will play weekly. Foreign leagues may either pale in comparison in quality altogether or emphasize a different playing style from the immensely physical and fast-paced approach taken in the EPL. Henderson has pulled some top-draw saves against other premier league sides and has more clean sheets than David de Gea. In fact, Henderson is joint second in the league alongside none other than Alisson and Schmeichel with 10 clean sheets. His performances this season have given Ole a real headache on what he needs to do. The United boss is now blessed with multiple quality shot-stoppers. Still, there is only one goalkeeping position on the field and Ole has a good headache on his hands.

Based on Henderson’s model, the ideal way for Karius to be back in the squad is if he pulBased on Henderson’s model, the ideal way for Karius to be back in the squad is if he pulls a string of fine performances for another Premier League club. A move to a club like Wolves or perhaps a team like Bournemouth would be good for the German. That’s because even if he does well, he could always choose the third option. At the end of his loan, he could seal a ….

A transfer away to start afresh

Instead of staying to win a starting place at Liverpool, where he is unwanted, why not seal a permanent move to a club that actually wants to play you as their starting goalkeeper?

Karius has been poor at times, but he is not an awful player as what many of us make him out to be. He has been crucified for his howlers and by continually bringing it up, Liverpool fans have not allowed him to grow and learn from his past mistakes. Perhaps he needs to cut ties with the Merseyside club entirely. If he wishes to stay in England, a transfer to an ambitious Championship team just like Kiko Casilla (who went to Leeds) would be an excellent move in my opinion. It gives his time to shed his past while establishing himself in a lower league, which has relatively less pressure than the Premier League. Karius could reinvent himself and either become a club icon or move to greener pastures once he has made a name for himself.

The Liverpool dream had turned into a nightmare and Karius’s loan to Besiktas was nothing more than a temporary reprieve. It is up to the German to decide what is next for him. He could try to fight for his place by sticking around or through a loan or move onto greener pastures to start a new chapter in his footballing career. Whatever decision he takes, what is certain is that his time at Besiktas is officially over and it would appear that it is over for good. Liverpool fans would be anxiously awaiting what happens next and many will be praying he doesn’t stick around.

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