In typically entertaining fashion Jurgen Klopp dismissed the recently-surfaced rumour of Liverpool interest in Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland, before springing to the defence of his current number one, much to the surprise of many a Reds fan no doubt.
In his pre-match press conference for Liverpool’s Capital One Cup quarter-final tie at Southampton, the German reiterated his complete satisfaction with Simon Mignolet’s contribution since taking over.
Klopp on Mignolet
“We are not looking for another goalkeeper,” Klopp said. We have enough high-quality goalkeepers, I’ve had a lot of goalkeepers over the last few years and Simon Mignolet is one of the smartest I have ever had.
“He is completely open and he’s young enough to develop, to improve. He’s not had the easiest situation before I came here, but since I have been here there has been nothing to criticise, absolutely nothing.”
Holding onto the ball for 22 seconds which led to Bordeaux’s opener in their last Europa League assignment might just provide evidence to counter Klopp’s belief in Mignolet’s apparent ‘smartness’.
But if this is an acceptable misdemeanour in the new manager’s eye, there has long been a wider held opinion that the Belgian stopper’s temperament lends itself to making such mistakes and that Klopp’s faith is slightly skewed based on Mignolet’s time at Anfield so far.
His earlier Liverpool days were characterised by an obvious flaw in claiming catches and he is still renowned for his preference for punching over the safer goalkeeping art form.
What the stats say
His shot-stopping ability is up there unquestionably, although in terms of the very best in the division even his reflexives can be questioned.
Over the same amount of games, Arsenal’s Petr Cech has made 34 saves to Mignolet’s 20 according to the statisticians at Squawka.com.
He has certainly improved in the catching department to his credit, but using Jack Butland as the benchmark he is still 19 successful catches down on England’s number two.
The most critical stat of all in goalkeeping terms probably casts the largest aspersions over Klopp’s unerring support of Mignolet and would back up the theory the former Sunderland stopper is still a rung below the level of glovesman Liverpool should employ.
Mignolet’s saves per goal ratio is a good deal lower than nearly half of the top-flight’s regular number ones.
According to the same stats bods, the Belgium international makes only 1.33 saves per goal, compared to 3.4 for Cech, 2.9 for Hugo Lloris at Tottenam, 3.14 for Butland, 3.38 for Manchester United’s David de Gea and 2.5 for Joe Hart.
Perhaps Klopp is masking his true intentions, but on this evidence bringing in Butland may be a notion worth revisiting rather than giving Mignolet a bumper new contract as the Guardian report may soon be on the table.
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