Former Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has stood by his decision to leave the club last year despite feeling that there was a distinct possibility of first choice ‘keeper Alisson suffering from injuries.
The Belgium international left for Club Brugge in early August and, only a few days later, the Brazilian incurred a calf injury against Norwich that subsequently kept him out for more than two months, with new signing Adrian stepping into the breach. Alisson was sidelined once more in March following a hip injury.
However, in an exclusive interview with the Liverpool Echo, Mignolet said he would have made the same decision even with the benefit of hindsight. The 32-year-old said: “I saw that Ali was unfortunately injured. At the same time, I knew that could be the case because he had come back from a long season with the Copa America and of course there is always a risk.
“I chose to leave not for that because even if I had played [in Adrian’s place] 10 or 15 games, you know when Ali gets back with what he has proven and the level he is at, he will always go back to the starting XI.
“Even if you play 15 games and keep 15 clean sheets in an unbelievable manner, you would still go back to the bench and that is not the thing I wanted to do at the age of 32. I knew that was a scenario that could pan out, but I still would have made the same decision I did today.”
Considering that Alisson has had two spells out injured this season and Adrian has committed some horrendous errors (most notably against Chelsea and Atletico Madrid) when deputising for him, it would be understandable if Mignolet subsequently felt that he may have departed Anfield too soon when he likely would have been presented with opportunities to play.
However, the Brazilian’s status as first choice was undisputed as he has had been ever-present in the Premier League and Champions League last season and won the Golden Glove in both, while he had very rarely suffered even short-term injuries in his career. Therefore, at the outset of the campaign, there was a distinct possibility that Mignolet would have had another season of being a rarely-used understudy if he stayed at Anfield.
Prior to joining Club Brugge, he had only made two competitive appearances in more than a year and, even in the season prior to Alisson’s arrival, he was no longer the first choice between the sticks at Liverpool. His last Premier League appearance came against Burnley on New Year’s Day 2018 and his only games in the Reds’ Champions League run that season came in the qualifying rounds, with Loris Karius regularly selected ahead of him.
With Klopp bringing in both Adrian and Andy Lonergan in pre-season, and with Mignolet barely featuring last season, the Belgian cannot be blamed for wanting more regular game-time elsewhere. Also, as he has said, Alisson has been instantly restored to the team any time he has returned from a period of unavailability, so the 32-year-old’s reasons for moving on after six years at Liverpool were perfectly understandable.
Liverpool fans, do you think Mignolet was right to move on when he did or do you wish he had stayed around for this season as well? Have your say by commenting below!