Liverpool

Why Liverpool Would Be Right to Pursue Nottingham Forest Keeper Karl Darlow

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 05:  Karl Darlow of Nottingham Forest in action during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Nottingham Forest at Amex Stadium on October 5, 2013 in Brighton, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Matt LadsonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2014

Liverpool have this week been linked with a move for Nottingham Forest's young goalkeeper Karl Darlow.

The report comes amidst a drop in form for summer signing Simon Mignolet, with Alex Richards of the Mirror writing that "Reds manager [Brendan] Rodgers is keen on bringing in a new recruit to compete with current No. 1 Simon Mignolet, following a number of recent high-profile errors from the Belgian."

Although it is perhaps a tenuous link, Liverpool would be right to seek a signing of this nature.

This isn't to suggest Mignolet should be dethroned after just six months in the job as Liverpool's No. 1 goalkeeper, but he should have competition—something Pepe Reina never had and something that perhaps ultimately played a role in his demise at Anfield.

Of course, a back-up goalkeeper should, in all honesty, be the least of Liverpool's worries right now, but should the right player become available, Rodgers would be wise to take the opportunity to strengthen his squad.

The Liverpool boss has previously spoken of his desire to have two strong players in each position plus three goalkeepers.

“You want between 20 and 22 players. I'm talking about two in every position and your three goalkeepers," he explained in March last year, via Chris Bascombe of The Telegraph.

Danny Ward
Danny WardChris Brunskill/Getty Images

At present, Liverpool have Mignolet, Brad Jones, Reina and Danny Ward.

Australian Jones was handed a new contract just over a year ago, according to the Press Association (via The Guardian), which expires in 2016, according to Transfermarkt.

Ward, 23, is a highly rated youngster currently impressing for the under-21s. He was signed from Wrexham in 2012.

 

Future

It would be extremely surprising if Reina, currently on a season loan to Napoli, didn't make a permanent departure from the club in the summer. His final destination isn't likely to be a return to Barcelona, who are reported to be signing Marc-Andre ter Stegen instead, per Liam Prenderville of the Mirror.

If Liverpool were to make a signing such as Darlow, that would put Jones' Liverpool future in doubt. Perhaps it's time for the 31-year-old to move on.

Those departures would leave Mignolet, Darlow and Ward, three young goalkeepers—Mignolet is still young for a keeper at 25 years old. Further testimony to Liverpool's aim of building for the future.

Darlow, the 23-year-old Englishman, has been impressive for Nottingham Forest this season and has also been linked with a move to Tottenham, per John Cross of the Mirror.

Darlow and Ward are close in age, but the purchase of Darlow would allow Ward to gain first-team experience out on loan.

If Liverpool are to achieve their goal of getting back in the Champions League, they'll need an able deputy to Mignolet who can play in domestic Cup competitions to allow the Belgian a break.

 

Mignolet's Form

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29:  Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet of Liverpool directs his defence during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on December 29, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Im
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Mignolet has received criticism for his form of late, most notably for the goals conceded in the last two fixtures against Stoke and Aston Villa.

Against Villa, Mignolet was at fault for the second goal, attempting to collect Gabriel Agbonlahor's cross but failing to do so—and giving Kopites nightmares about David James in the process.

At Stoke the week before, the Belgian failed to stop Jonathan Walters' tame shot.

Stats too show Mignolet is out of form, per statistician Dan Kennett:

1) #Mignolet is out of form. Since Goodison derby just 17 saves from 30 SoT faced (57%). Before that 49/62 (79%) #LFC

— Dan Kennett (@DanKennett) January 16, 2014

Mignolet, though, cannot be helped by the constant changing of the defence ahead of him, with injuries severely disrupting the full-backs and centre-backs throughout the campaign. Liverpool have failed to have a settled back four at any stage in Mignolet's first season at a top-half team.

One person whose role hasn't been mentionedbut perhaps should beis the goalkeeper coach.

John Achterberg was promoted to first-team goalkeeper coach following the departure of Xavi Valero when Rafa Benitez left the club in 2010 and when Mike Kelly, who was appointed by Roy Hodgson to the role, left in January 2011. It was a temporary appointment initially, but the Dutchman has continued in the role since then.

He initially joined the club as the reserves and academy goalkeeper coach in 2009, working under Valero.

Achterberg's appointment to the first team coincided with the dip in form of Reina, and Mignolet has also dropped in form after an initially strong start to life at Liverpool.

Is this something Rodgers should be questioning? Perhaps a new goalkeeper coach would be more beneficial to get the most from Mignolet? Only Rodgers can judge that.

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