Liverpool has a long and proud history of signing players who make immense contributions to the club's UEFA Tattoo Coefficient rankings and the arrival of German goalkeeper Loris Karius further solidifies the club's place in the elite of tattooed teams. At first glance, Karius looks like he earns top marks for his efforts, but let's dive a bit deeper to take a much closer look at what's going on on that heavily inked skin.
Let's break down the individual components that make up the coefficients.
Karius straddles the line between traditionalist and modernist, selecting tried and true tattoos and mixing them with more contemporary options. His chest piece features time honoured flash art motifs of a diamond, roses, and a pair of swallows, but his right forearm goes 180° in the opposite direction by embracing Mickey Mouse gloves, cartoony skulls and stars, and a comic book-style BOOM onomatopoeic sound bubble. In the middle of either extreme are large floral elements on his shoulder, another pair of birds, and a pair of crossed feathers designed to look like they've pierced the skin on his back. His left arm is devoted almost entirely to religious imagery, with a praying figure dominating his bicep, and a heavenly scene featuring a heart with beams of light, stars, and angels in a variety of poses taking up his forearm. A tiny cross sits behind his right ear.
Inspirational text should not be forgotten, from the "Dream Chaser" script below his collar bones to the difficult to make out "toujours dans mon coeur" message in French that invites the question just as to who is always in his heart. His right bicep express that "Other things may change us, but start and end with family." He has the name Karl on the outside of his left wrist, while a series of roman numerals graces the inside. An initial H within a star is tattooed on his right hip.
Colour vs Black & White
Karius takes an uncommon approach to his art, choosing largely to get tattoos that are in shades of grey but selectively colouring the two roses on his chest and the letters in BOOM. Most players choose one or the other — Martin Skrtel being another notable example of this selective colouring approach — and while I wish players would commit to one or the other, Karius' colour choices here are both consistent and spare enough that it doesn't overwhelm the rest of the tattoos.
Surface Area Coverage
Karius drops needless points here by prioritizing epidermis coverage over the execution of individual pieces. Though there is clear purpose behind the clouds appearing on his left arm in the heavenly scene, the clouds taking up the otherwise blank spaces on his chest and around all the cartoon elements on his right arm don't seem nearly as intentional. There was so much space there that could have been used for additional smaller pieces to fill in the gaps, especially given the ease with which additional comic book motifs or traditional flash could have been included. Karius still has lots of surface area with which to work for future tattoos, but he needs to maximize its usage going forward.
Karius takes a rather scattershot approach to both theme and execution, which is absolutely his prerogative but means it will be difficult to enter the truly elite levels occupied by the likes of oh, say, Daniel Agger.
The nature of tattoos means they're acquired over time and are not necessarily selected in consideration of the existing work that may adorn one's body. Though Loris generally scores fairly decent points on imagery, the wildly disparate approach to his subjects coupled with a bit too much reliance on stock motifs to fill in expanses of blank space makes the overall effect a bit lopsided. But Karius is still young with lots of unaltered skin at his disposal, and I have every confidence he can only improve from here.
Total score: 37/50