In December, anyone suggesting Simon Mignolet might end up Liverpool’s player of the season would have been laughed at. A little more than four months after he was left on the bench in favour of Brad Jones against Manchester United, though, there are really only two names in the running. Philippe Coutinho being one of them is hardly a surprise. Mignolet is the other.
Coutinho, with his fancy footwork and the fact that he’s been performing to a high level nearly all season—Liverpool Offside readers gave him his first player of the month award back in October and finished third in league-wide player of the year voting—will likely take his share, but the first award went to Mignolet. The Belgian shot-stopper spoke of his pride in the honour, and of the difficulties of an up and down season.
"No one would have thought this earlier in the season, and neither would I," said Mignolet following his selection by Liverpool’s former players as the club’s best performer this season. "What I’ve learned this season going forward is that when you get criticism and praise, you need to deal with it the same way. The only thing you can do is keep your head down, work hard, and show on the pitch what you can do."
It’s been a remarkable turnaround, one that has largely banished any talk of a goalkeeper being a priority in the summer. There may still be the occasional rumble and rumour, but compared to the weeks leading up to the January window it’s almost entirely quiet when it comes to rumours of Liverpool seeking a replacement for Mignolet. Even Petr Cech, once thought a priority, is now expected to instead head to Besiktas.
"Sometimes it can be a lonely place being a goalkeeper, but at this club there are always a lot of people supporting you," added the Belgian. "The coaching staff and my teammates have always been behind me, and that makes it a lot easier. I also want to thank the supporters for always being behind me. I’ll keep their support in my mind going forward."
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