Germany have long been a nation that have gone relatively unnoticed for the amount of worldclass goalkeepers they have produced. From the likes of Harald Schumacher and Sepp Maier to Jens Lehmann, the great Oliver Kahn and, more recently, Manuel Neuer, it’s no exaggeration to say this great footballing country is steeped in goalkeeper folklore. That’s just a small dose of nostalgia.
Step forward exciting prospect, Loris Karius. The youngster started out his youth career with a stint at fellow German side VfB Stuttgart. Time passed and a move to Manchester City ensued. Under the tutelage of superior, international shotstoppers Shay Given and Joe Hart, Karius played for the U18 and U21 sides for two seasons at the same time Hannover number one Ron Robert Zieler was at rivals, Manchester United.
At the still young age of 18, City opted to loan the German back to his homeland, and that’s where Mainz stepped in. Almost immediately, he was thrown into the reserves — playing in Germany’s fourth tier — where he impressed so much so that he was signed on a permanent basis, months later.
It’s been almost three and a half years since third choice goalkeeper Karius made his debut, replacing Christian Wetklo — after the veteran was sent off early in the second half — as 10 man Mainz managed to defeat Hannover.
Then manager Thomas Tuchel kept the protégé grounded until November of 2013, where suspension and injury forced him into playing the patient Karius against fierce rivals Eintracht Frankfurt. The Rhine-Main
derby win proved to be the turning point in his senior career as a hard fought clean sheet saw Karius remain the undisputed number one at the Karnevalsverein to this day, under Tuchel and current manager Martin Schmidt, who was reserve manager at the time.
Since dominating life between the sticks, Karius has helped push Mainz higher up the table to strong seasons, since their promotion in 2009. This season, the club went one better than their 7th placed finish two seasons ago, solidifying another year of European football, despite selling many key players.
The latest campaign saw Karius mimic his club’s form and rise up the ranks of Germany’s finest. His crucial nature is backed up by the statistic Mainz conceded the third fewest goals (42) in the Bundesliga — bested only by Bayern, Dortmund and Leverkusen. This is followed up by a strong 74% save ratio and nine league clean sheets this season.
Like many in his position, the 6ft2tall Karius likes to dominate his surrounding area in the form of intercepting crosses and snuffing out setpieces. This is music to the ears of Liverpool fans everywhere, as yet another awful season saw Simon Mignolet fail to improve upon his dodgy nature.
As well as being enviously calm in the box, die Nullfünfer’s number one has excelled in the form of lightning-quick reflexes, reading the game with a sharp tactical awareness, enabling him to accelerate off the goalline in rapid fashion and pulling saves out of nowhere when his defence has failed — the latter a sight many of us have become all too familiar with. As you read this, it comes as no shock the Coface Ace has notched an impressive 2.53 saves per game ratio.
A common trait amongst modern German goalkeepers has been the sharp, quick distribution Anfield been lacking for years. Such skills have aided Yunus Mallı and Yoshinori Muto in firing Schmidt’s side up the table, on the break.
Moreover, Karius has the strong mentality Klopp would wish to seek out. As the season continued, Mainz’s goals started to dry up and, as a result, a more defensive attitude was employed. This led to increased pressure on the goal, but the 22year old stood up to this in limiting the damage.
As previously mentioned, reflexes are a strong feature in Karius’ game, earning him many plaudits and similarities to Spanish number one David de Gea. This pièce de résistance trait has attracted the attention of many non Bundesliga fans, as well as the Liverpool hierarchy.
Although he has strong competition in the form of Ralf Fährmann, Timo Horn and Bernd Leno, the ace shotstopper would prove to be a valuable addition to a deprived Liverpool side for a very reasonable £4.7m.