May 26, 2018 at 7.45pm UK at ​Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex
Attendance: 61,561
Real Madrid
3-1
Liverpool
Benzema (51'), Bale (64', 83')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Mane (55')
Mane (82')

Does Loris Karius still have a future at Liverpool?

Sports Mole discusses whether Loris Karius has a future at Liverpool following his high-profile mistakes in the Champions League final.

The dust is finally beginning to settle on an incident-packed and memorable Champions League final which provided more talking points than most matches in recent history.

From whether Gareth Bale's bicycle kick deserves the accolade of the greatest goal in the competition's history to whether or not Sergio Ramos deserves punishment for his foul on Mohamed Salah, which ended the Egyptian's match after just half an hour and had a clear impact on Liverpool's all-round performance in Kiev, there has been no shortage of issues to straighten out in the wake of club football's biggest match.

While both of those incidents undoubtedly had a say on the result, arguably the biggest reason behind Liverpool's defeat was the performance of goalkeeper Loris Karius, who made two inexplicable and indefensible errors which led directly to Real Madrid goals.

The German was visibly distraught after the final whistle, and made no attempt to shirk the responsibility of his mistakes, admitting that he cost his side the match and the possibility of a sixth European title.

Reaction to Karius's performance has been mixed. There was obvious despair for the Liverpool fans and players; the errors were so glaring and so rarely seen before in a game of such magnitude that, aside from shouldering the blame as a team, Karius's teammates could not ignore the fact that their goalkeeper had made two such costly mistakes.

However, sympathy followed for a 24-year-old who clearly cared about the incidents and would do anything to change them, while at the other end of the spectrum he was reportedly targeted with death threats.

The lingering question over his future remains, though - can Karius stay at Liverpool after such a horror show in the biggest game of his life?

Loris Karius in tears after the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool on May 26, 2018© Offside

Goalkeeper has been a long-standing issue for Liverpool, perhaps even going back as far as Bruce Grobbelaar. Since then, the likes of David James, Sander Westerveld, Jerzy Dudek, Pepe Reina, Simon Mignolet and Karius himself have all filled the position for the Reds.

Plenty of those keepers have had their moments; Westerveld helped Liverpool to the 2000-01 treble, Dudek's finest hour came in Istanbul while Reina is regarded as the club's best goalkeeper since Grobbelaar.

However, all of the above were eventually replaced as they were prone to errors. As recently as the campaign just finished, Mignolet was replaced by Karius as the club's number one due to the number of mistakes he made, after Karius had previously lost that position for his own string of blunders.

None has made quite as high-profile howlers as those suffered by Karius on Saturday night, though, and it would have been another stark reminder to the club of the importance of a top-class goalkeeper.

The goalkeeper's union has rallied around the German, but the nature of the mistakes hinted at a lack of concentration and risk-assessment, which seems inconceivable at such a high level.

The fact that two schoolboy errors came in the same game should also ring alarm bells. The best goalkeepers rarely make a mistake - certainly such a bad one - but if they do they are able to shake off the setback and learn from it. Karius appeared to do the opposite, letting the first mistake affect him and that led to the second.

Players need these formative experiences at times, but for two of them to occur in the biggest match of your life to date - perhaps what will be the biggest match of his entire career - will test Karius's mental fortitude to the limit.

Goalkeepers especially cannot be judged solely on their mistakes. The most successful example in recent times is Manchester United's David de Gea, whose early years at the club were blighted by suggestions that he was not good enough following a number of mistakes.

Indeed, the Spaniard was dropped for Anders Lindegaard at one stage of his United career, but he has since developed into arguably the best goalkeeper in the world, and United fans must shudder to think where they would be without him in recent years.

Karius may never go on to reach the heights of De Gea - few ever do - but there are certainly signs of a good goalkeeper under there. A Germany Under-21 international, Karius was voted the Bundesliga's second-best keeper behind only Manuel Neuer before joining Liverpool and had impressed during his second stint as the club's number one prior to Saturday. In fact, the German kept more clean sheets in the Champions League this season than any other goalkeeper.

Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius in action for his side during their Champions League Group E clash with Sevilla at Anfield on September 13, 2017© Offside

The best goalkeepers can win teams big games, though, and Karius has rarely looked like carrying that trait - at least so far in his career.

It is worth remembering that Karius is still young for a goalkeeper, and there is plenty of room for improvement. Selling the German at this stage may not be the best option for him or the club, but what the Champions League final did show was that he isn't at the level required for Liverpool to take that next step up yet.

Jurgen Klopp ultimately has designs on winning the Premier League title, and the owners seem to be confident enough that they are heading in the right direction by backing him in the transfer market. The signing of Fabinho, imminent arrival of Naby Keita and links to Nabil Fekir have shown that already in this window.

Whether such big spending extends to the goalkeeping position remains to be seen, but it is arguably the most important one to fill in what is shaping up to be a formidable team at Anfield.

One thing the Champions League final did is highlight that in the most stark and merciless way to the owners, but to get one of their main targets - Jan Oblak or Alisson Becker - then they will need to open their wallets again.

As for outgoings, the 30-year-old Mignolet must surely be closer to the door than Karius even after the mistakes in the final, so there could well be a future for the German at Anfield. However, it would be a surprise if he remained the club's number one with such big question marks lingering over his big-game temperament.

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Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring the fourth during the Premier League game between Bournemouth and Liverpool on December 17, 2017
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