With time bad memories can fade. But not for Loris Karius. For him, memories of that night in Kiev are still vivid. And Liverpool supporters have not forgotten, either.
It has, inevitably, been difficult to cast aside the mistakes Karius made in the Champions League final. Regardless of the medical diagnosis that followed — he had suffered a concussion before making the errors — there remains a palpable feeling of mistrust. It did not help that Karius made another mistake in a pre-season friendly against Tranmere.
Liverpool, as expected, looked to defend their distraught goalkeeper after the calamity of Kiev. Their intentions were good but it perhaps only served to draw more attention towards Karius. And it is now clear that Liverpool no longer feel secure with the German as their No.1.
The pursuit of Roma goalkeeper Alisson Becker — which looks set to culminate in a transfer in excess of £60 million — is a damning indictment of Karius' current standing at the club. It is not surprising: Liverpool have not had stability in the position for some time and Alisson last season identified himself as one of the most consistent goalkeepers in Europe.
REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
But it is unquestionably bad news for Karius. Liverpool, of course, have no requirement to stick with him. His mistakes, after all, might have cost them silverware. But after so purposefully defending him, Liverpool could leave him feeling alienated and disillusioned if the signing of Alisson is confirmed.
Karius had established himself as Jurgen Klopp's number one in the runup to the Champions League final. He had not always convinced but he had impressed enough to keep Simon Mignolet on the bench. Errors were infrequent and usually inconsequential. But two moments in the most important game of all could cost Karius his Liverpool career.
Should Alisson arrive, it is unlikely that anyone else will get a look in. Karius, if he stays at Liverpool, will have to accept his role as a backup. That is not ideal. Karius will almost certainly want to put things right, to prove himself to the supporters who felt so let down in May. He will not be able to do that from the bench.
Action Images via Reuters/Paul Burrows
Karius has options. His career is not yet in ruins — football is fickle, but not quite that fickle. There will be suitors willing to take him off Liverpool's hands, if it should come to that. It is easy to forget that Karius had performed well, but for the occasional lapse, before the Real Madrid defeat.
But his already fragile confidence could take another hit when £60 million is spent on his replacement. Karius could be shunned to the side; he could be discarded and forgotten about.
Liverpool have no obligation to consider Karius' career in the long term. That does not concern them, and results must be prioritised. But an effort must be made to contextualise. Karius made two mistakes and they are likely to define the remainder of his career. He is, like all footballers, a person with goals and ambitions, trying to forge a successful career and avoid the wrath of onlookers who do not recognise that elite footballers have feelings too.
But things could be about to get significantly harder. The arrival of Alisson could be the beginning of a difficult few years for the 25-year-old.
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