The latest on the rumor mill is Inter Milan’s shot-stopper Samir Handanovic. The 32-year-old Slovenian international is one of three non-Italian goalkeepers to win the Serie A goalkeeper of the year. Also, his nick name is Batman, and he’s apparently linked with Liverpool.
It’s no secret that Liverpool have been weak defensively over the past several seasons. Although Jürgen Klopp greatly increased the offensive production (even after a disastrous January, Liverpool still lead the league in goals scored), the defense remains soft. Indeed, it seems no lead is safe for either team, so long as Liverpool are playing.
When a team leaks goals, the most obvious culprit is the last line of defense—those brave souls with different colored kits and gloves, flapping their arms as another soft goal makes the net bulge. After years of steady decline for Liverpool, Klopp was ready to bring in a replacement, plucking then 22-year-old Loris Karius from his old stopping grounds, Mainz 05. Karius had a rocky start in goal, and Klopp had no choice but to revert to his Belgian shot-stopper.
To the shock of many, Mignolet has thus far shown some of his best performances for Liverpool since coming back into the side, including two huge, point-saving performances against Manchester United and Chelsea. Still, the question of whether to bring in a new goalkeeper is an open one.
It’s easy to blame the defensive weakness on the goalkeeper, but the defenders are often the ones who should take the brunt of the blame. Perhaps the money would be better spent for a defensive midfielder and/or center back and/or fullback and/or another fullback. Additionally, Liverpool’s high press will always leave them exposed at the back, if teams are able to play their way through it.
The Handanovic rumors tend to focus on him as a replacement for both Mignolet and Karius. I can’t imagine both ‘keepers would be out the door if this is the case. While 32-years-old is hardly ancient for a goalkeeper, it’s not young either. But if he’s brought in to start while Karius continues acclimatizing to the league, it might make a great deal of sense.