Why Selling Simon Mignolet Would Be Best For All Parties

Whichever way you look at it, this seems like it’s going to be an odd summer for Liverpool Football Club. Right now, as defending European champions and a side that notched up ninety-seven points in the league, we’ve never been a more attractive proposition to players around the globe. Yet Jürgen Klopp seems determined to refuse to buy any of them. I understand his desire to work with what he’s got, but reports that players such as Adam Lallana are ‘like a new signing’ concern my massively. Of course when it comes to football and transfers, Klopp and Michael Edwards know more about each than I’ll ever know about them combined and they’ve shown in recent years that they’ve earned the right to be trusted and to do what they want without complaint. I’m just terrified that we struggle a bit in the coming season and suddenly the tide of opinion turns against the manager in a way that he doesn’t deserve, because it won’t take much for this squad to suddenly look weak and his decision not to go into the market looks like folly.

I want to be wrong on that. I have no desire mid-season to be saying ‘I spent the summer saying we should buy someone’ and I hope people get to look at my concerned tweets from this summer and say that I was an idiot. Philippe Coutinho is a prime example. Personally I don’t think that the manager would be wanting to work with him had he spent the past few years at Bayern Munich rather than Liverpool, largely because he doesn’t have the work rate in terms of tracking back etc. If we take him back from Barcelona this summer, however, then it’s obvious that I’m wrong and the manager really likes him. Whatever decision is made I just want it to be the right one for the football club as I, like everyone else, want nothing more than to see us win as many trophies as possible. Will we do that with the current squad? I hope so, but the reality is that we’ll need a huge amount of luck on our side to do it. One decision that I think the club are currently getting wrong is the future of Simon Mignolet, for the simple reason that it doesn’t help either party. Here’s why I think as much:

He Deserves To Play Regularly

Those of you that often read my pieces will know that I’ve never been Simon Mignolet’s biggest fan. It’s not that I think he’s a terrible goalkeeper and people that say he’s the worst in the Premier League are well off the mark. My issue with him has always been that he’s not good enough to push the club from scraping top four finishes to winning trophies on a regular basis. It’s no coincidence that we’ve reached a record points total and won the Champions League when we went out and bought one of the best goalkeepers in the world. The Belgian makes saves that he should make and rarely any more than that. Off the top of my head I can only think of one save during his time at Anfield that you would say was world-class, with all of the others being the sort of saves that you’d expect a competent goalkeeper to make. Indeed, Alisson Becker has made as many amazing saves in one season as Mignolet has managed throughout his career.

None of that is to say that he’s rubbish, though; he definitely isn’t, but there’s a difference between not being rubbish and being excellent. That’s why I think Liverpool should be looking to move him on, but from his point of view I think a move would be good for his career. If he’s number two then he’s only going to get to play a few games every season, which isn’t helpful to a thirty-one-year-old. He’s more than good enough to be playing weekly for a mid-table side in the Premier League or one of the better sides in the likes of Germany, Spain or Italy. His career is at risk of coming to a grinding halt if he doesn’t move on, which would be a shame for a player who is certainly talented. Rather than being a second-string player hoping for a chance at some point, Mignolet could be a leader and senior player in the dressing room.

He Doesn’t Fit Our Style Of Play

It was clear from the moment that Jürgen Klopp arrived at Anfield that he wanted to play an open, expansive and attacking style of play. Watching Simon Mignolet attempt to fit in with that style was not fun, leaving you with your heart in your mouth more often than not. He is a player that likes to be resolutely stuck on his line, refusing to come for things but occasionally having to because that’s the way we work as a team. I can’t imagine him being delighted at the possibility of Joel Matip going on one of his twisting, winding runs up the pitch, searching for a pass. Nor can I picture the Belgian being all that happy at being behind Virgil van Dijk when the centre-back decides it’s time to just go an play in midfield for five minutes. He’s a man that needs a deep-lying defence and the way Klopp has us playing at present simply doesn’t fit in with that idea.

It’s also not helpful for the rest of the club. We play in a certain way throughout the entire system, from youth team on up. How is it helpful for the likes of Ki Jana Hoever to come in for a game in the FA Cup and find himself needing to play with a goalkeeper that works in a totally different way to the one he’s spent the rest of his season working with? It strikes me as being completely against the way this manager likes to work that young defender will spend most of their time at the club working with goalkeepers who like to act as sweeper-keepers only to then have to guess whether the shot-stopper they’re playing alongside in the League Cup is going to come out for a ball or not. All of the noises at present appear to be that Klopp is happy with Mignolet remaining at the club, but I do wonder whether that’s a little bit of toffee. It strikes me that it suits both parties for the Belgian to find a new home before August comes around.

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