All transfers seem to have a domino effect, as one player’s move to a club has a crucial effect on the career of another.
For goalkeepers, this seems to be all the more apparent. No shot-stopper wants to be left kicking their heels on the bench whilst a teammate is impressing between the sticks. Or at least that should be the case.
Because of course there is the world of the high-profile backup ‘keeper, these well-paid, well-travelled men who follow around the world’s best teams only to get a glimpse of action in cup competitions from time to time, or in the case of an injury to the No. 1.
These men usually fall into one of two categories.
There are the older goalkeepers who are happy with the reduced workload—Mark Schwarzer, Brad Friedel, Manchester City’s Richard Wright (although whatever workload he has isn’t apparent)—and the younger ‘keepers who are seemingly biding their time before surely moving on to be a No. 1 elsewhere. City’s Costel Pantilimon has been released, Manchester United’s Anders Lindegaard surely needs to follow suit, whilst Lukasz Fabianski has just left Arsenal for Swansea City.
The Pole’s switch is one of the more intriguing we’ve seen in the Premier League so far this summer, as you’d suspect that, after ending a somewhat frustrating seven years at the Gunners by winning the FA Cup, he’ll have to have been given assurances by Swans manager Garry Monk that he was moving to South Wales to be the No. 1. Except they’ve already got a pretty good one of those as it is.
Michel Vorm has 14 caps for the Netherlands, making him the most internationally experienced of the four goalkeepers currently in Louis van Gaal’s preliminary Dutch World Cup squad, but it appears as though that isn’t going to count for much in Brazil.
The feeling in the Netherlands, and one shared by Dutch goalkeeping legend Edwin van der Sar as per FIFA.com, is that it’ll be Ajax’s Jasper Cillessen who dons the gloves when the Dutch face Spain in Salvador two weeks on Friday. Vorm will be on the bench, with his career at a crossroads.
When Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers told BT Sport that he wanted to sign another goalkeeper this summer, as reported here by ESPN, it didn’t take long for the links to his former Swansea stopper Vorm to materialise, with this one in the Liverpool Echo appearing within the week.
But would Vorm want to move to Liverpool to be the backup to Simon Mignolet? That depends on how he views the situation.
Whilst often impressing—none more so than when he saved a penalty on his debut—in his first season at Anfield, it is fair to say that Mignolet attracted his fair share of criticism, too.
The Belgian was joining a Liverpool side that were expected to be around fifth, sixth or seventh in the Premier League, and in that context his move from Sunderland made sense. Suddenly though, this team were title contenders and all of their players had to up their games as a result. Mignolet usually did, but there were costly lapses in concentration.
Would an increase in competition have benefitted him? Understudy Brad Jones is an honest, hard-working professional who has done well when called upon—the FA Cup semi-final against Everton in 2012 being the highlight—but as a motivator and indeed a threat to Mignolet he sadly fails on both counts.
The addition of Vorm, and with him a bit of Belgian-Dutch rivalry between the posts, can only be seen as healthy in that context then, and could prove to be a smart move ahead of a campaign which will see Liverpool return to the Champions League and attempt to follow up on the successes of last season.
The key to all of this, though, lies in just where Vorm sees his career right now.
Still only 30, there would plenty who’d suggest that he is approaching his peak as a goalkeeper, however there’d be many others who say he reached that during his one and only season working under Rodgers at Swansea in 2011/12.
Move on to a club where his talents would ensure that he’d definitely play, or reunite with a manager who got the best out of him?
This is Vorm’s choice to make, but the benefits seem obvious to Liverpool and indeed Mignolet.
The Reds could pick up a proven Premier League performer presumably on the cheap whilst increasing their squad depth, whilst for Mignolet, still just 26, the battle to ensure that performer doesn’t often get to perform could end up being the making of him.
Fabianski’s decision to swap North London for South Wales could well have set the dominoes in motion…