What next for Liverpool? A Champions League final defeat and another head-in-hands moment for a Reds goalkeeper has again raised questions.
As the whistle blew full time on May 26, there was a roar from the Madrid faithful, euphoria as they saw their heroes lift their fourth champions league title in five years. For Liverpool, there was the harrowing scene of Loris Karius sunken to the floor, holding his shirt over his face. This was a man who had made two blunders on the biggest stage of all, the biggest game of his life and Liverpool’s greatest chance of winning their sixth European Cup in over a decade.
Where do Liverpool go from here? A new number one may have shot to the top of the shopping list for Jurgen Klopp and so we have a look at some of the stoppers that the German may be considering.
Nationality: Brazil (24 caps)
Alisson Becker has established himself as one of Europe’s top goalkeepers in the past couple of seasons and he was included in the Champions League team of the season for his efforts. Alisson plays as a sweeper keeper, very similar to his international team-mate Ederson of Manchester City. The fact that he is number one ahead of Ederson speaks volumes about his talents. Alisson is a commanding presence with a huge strength being his acrobatic saves which defy logic at times. Alisson often rushes out of goal early, hence his sweeping role, which, as we saw against Mo Salah at Anfield, can be taken advantage of. The question for Alisson is whether he could handle the physicality of the Premier League, as he struggled in the two legs against Liverpool although made some important saves. Perhaps behind a defence boasting the commanding Van Dijk, Alisson could get protection he did not have at Roma and could thrive.
Price: Roma hold all the cards here, with last summer’s sale of Mo Salah giving Monchi nightmares about why they sold their star man. Roma could ask anything north of £70 m for the Brazilian, knowing how desperate Liverpool are for a new keeper. Also a good World Cup tournament could bump the price.
Nationality: Slovenia (18 caps)
Club: Atletico Madrid
Oblak is seen as one of the world’s best and possibly the closest quality available to David De Gea, who seems in a league of his own.
The Slovenian has won the Zamora award three years running in La Liga, the prize given to the goalkeeper with the best goals conceded per game ratio. He does enjoy a rock-solid defence in front of him, but countless times he saves his team vital points. In the match against Arsenal at the Emirates, he made a stunning save to keep Atletico in the game and go on to win comfortably.
This term he helped Atletico to win the Europa League and finish second in the Spanish top flight.
Price: Hefty. Atletico are a top team and do not want to lose their man. Spanish journalist Ruben Uria claimed Athletico Madrid have tied the keeper down to a contract with a new release clause of 180 million euros. So Liverpool will have to pay top dollar for the elite level.
Country: England (7 caps)
Club: Stoke City
Butland is one that really splits the fans. Many would bring him in, however in replacement for outgoing Simon Mignolet as number two. Many question whether Butland has what it takes to become a top level keeper for a top six side in the Premier League. Butland had a terrible year with Stoke being relegated however he was one of their brighter players. Fans are concerned he could be another Mignolet; good shot-stopping ability but looking better with a weak defence in front of him. A worry is he can produce the odd clanger, see Stoke's game against Leicester when he palmed it into the goal. However, he also shows great reflexes for many saves, and perhaps just lacks a bit of consistency in his performances. Relegation does not mean everything, look at Andrew Robertson’s rise from being relegated with Hull City to becoming the Scottish answer to Roberto Carlos.
Butland might answer a lot of questions at the World Cup this summer, if he gets the nod ahead of Everton’s Jordan Pickford and Burnley’s Nick Pope.
Price: Given Stoke’s relegation, Butland may be a cut price option as the Potters may wish to revamp their aging squad for a gruelling Championship campaign. Price could start around £20 million, given he is an England international player.
Country: Italy (5 caps)
Club: AC Milan
Seen as the long-term replacement for Buffon, he seems the shining hope for Italy’s goalkeeping for the next decade. Blessed with a huge frame and height, he has all the attributes to become one of the biggest names in the football world. With already over 100 appearances for AC Milan he has experienced a lot of Serie A football. It remains to be seen if he could adapt to Premier League football with more physicality but given his size this should not be a problem.
Price: AC Milan have good backing from their Chinese ownership, so they have no lack of funds as shown by last summer’s spending. Missing out on the Champions League may force them to balance funding so if a big enough offer came in perhaps they would consider it. Donnarumma allegedly has a clause in his contract that allows him to negotiate a move away from the San Siro in the event of missing out on a place at Europe's top table. Milan have lowered their asking price from £61.3m to £35m, according to il COrriere dello Sport. Given Donnarumma’s age and potential to be Italy’s number one for years it may take a starting bid of more than £35 million to get Milan to the table.
Country: Spain (1 cap)
Club: Athletico Bilbao
Kepa is a keeper with huge potential. La Liga fans and pundits have been impressed by the Bilbao stopper who is apparently interesting Real Madrid as a future option. The comparisons with De Gea are mentioned frequently, as Kepa has fanatastic reflexes and could make the transition to the Premier League like De Gea has done. Kepa has been called up to the Spain World Cup squad and will surely learn a lot with De Gea and Pepe Reina training with him everyday.
If he could become half of what De Gea is now - it's worth a try.
Price: When Kepa put pen to paper on a new contract to 2025, his release clause rose from €20 million to €80m. A price worth paying for the heir to De Gea’s throne?