Despite some high-profile blunders in recent appearances, Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian is understood to retain the faith of manager Jurgen Klopp and looks set to remain the primary backup to first choice netminder Alisson next season.
That is according to journalist James Pearce, who made the claim about the Spaniard in a Q&A for The Athletic, adding that young Reds ‘keeper Caoimhin Kelleher could instead be loaned out in 2020/21. He said: “The plan is for Kelleher to go out on loan next season. Despite Adrian’s recent errors, I’m not aware that Klopp’s in the market for another keeper. The back-up keeper role is such a difficult one to fill. I think experience is important, especially with the pressure/scrutiny of playing for LFC.”
Adrian – the good and the bad at Liverpool
Following his arrival on a free transfer last August, Adrian’s Liverpool career got off to an encouraging start. Thrown into the spotlight after Alisson’s calf injury on the opening day of the Premier League season, the 33-year-old played in eight consecutive league victories for the Reds and produced the decisive save in the UEFA Super Cup penalty shoot-out triumph over Chelsea. He also conjured a sublime reaction save in a Champions League defeat at Napoli in September.
After a second injury to Alisson at the start of this month, Adrian was again called upon to fill the void, but fortune did not smile on the Spaniard this time. Just a few minutes into the FA Cup clash at Chelsea, a handling error gifted the Blues their opener in a 2-0 win. A week later, with Liverpool overturning a first leg deficit in their Champions League tie against Atletico Madrid, he booted the ball straight to Joao Felix and was duly beaten by Marcos Llorente in what proved to be the turning point in a 3-2 victory for the La Liga outfit at Anfield. Following that calamitous moment, he was slated by ex-Reds player Steve Nicol and journalist Alyson Rudd and was even the recipient of inexcusable death threats.
The figures alone highlight the stark difference between Alisson and Adrian – the former has been beaten only 17 times in 28 matches this season (0.61 goals conceded per game), keeping 14 clean sheets (50% of games); the latter has shipped 24 goals in 18 appearances (1.33 goals per game) and managed just three clean sheets (16.67% of games).
Adrian must heed the Liverpool woes of Loris Karius
Adrian is not the first Liverpool goalkeeper to blunder badly on the European stage. Two years ago, Loris Karius was culpable of two shocking errors in the Reds’ 3-1 Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid. Like Adrian, the German was subjected to vile online abuse following that difficult night.
Karius’ fortunes in the subsequent pre-season thrust him back into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Footage of a handling error in the warm-up to a friendly against Chester, followed by further mistakes against Tranmere and Borussia Dortmund, ultimately prompted Klopp to sanction a two-year loan move to Besiktas for the ‘keeper, who has had his share of difficulties in Turkey as well.
The 26-year-old is due to return to Liverpool once his loan expires at the end of the season but, with Klopp planning to keep faith with Adrian, there is a sense that Karius’ Reds career effectively ended after his Kiev horror show. Assuming the Spaniard is retained at Anfield next season, the onus is on him to repay the faith that his manager seems to have in him and ensure that he isn’t cast aside as unwanted goods like Karius has effectively been.
Is Klopp right to keep faith in Adrian or does the manager need to be ruthless and jettison the Spaniard after his recent errors? Share your views in the comments section below!