Should Benfica Target Loris Karius Be Liverpool's Pepe Reina Replacement?

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentAugust 6, 2014

Mainz goalkeeper Loris Karius, center, holds the ball while Dortmund's Marco Reus, left, celebrates after scoring during the German first division Bundesliga soccer match between BvB Borussia Dortmund and Mainz 05 in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, April 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Frank Augstein

Pepe Reina wanting out from Liverpool was inevitable, so should he be replaced by Mainz goalkeeper Loris Karius?

Bayern Munich will sign Reina for €3.2/£2.5 million pending the completion of a medical, per Andy Hunter at The Guardian.

Meanwhile, A Bola and O Jogo (via freelance writer Jan Hagen on Twitter) claim Benfica are trying to secure Karius' signature:

The likely aim is to sign him before he turns into a big star like Marc-Andre ter Stegen did at Borussia Monchengladbach, which paved a transfer to Barcelona

To cover the hypothetical scenario of Liverpool competing with Benfica to sign Karius, here is a scouting report on the 21-year-old, 6'3", 165-pound German stopper. 

Karius Positives

Karius' saves, saves per goal conceded and clean sheets per game last season were higher than Reina's, per Squawka.

Credit: Squawka.com
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Karius routinely demonstrates his agility by closing down space, which pressurises opposing players into rushed shots. 

He snuffed the shot of then-Werder Bremen (now Wolfsburg) central attacking midfielder Aaron Hunt.

Credit: Bundesliga.com

Like Hunt, Borussia Dortmund left attacking midfielder/deep-lying forward Marco Reus was denied by Karius. 

Hannover 96 left/right winger Leonardo Bittencourt had the ball snatched by Karius in a one-on-one situation. 

Schalke central attacking midfielder Max Meyer's shot was blocked by the outstretched leg of Karius.

Possessing lithely hand-eye coordination, Karius tipped Borussia Monchengladbach right-winger Patrick Herrmann's bullet-header onto the crossbar. 

Diving to the right, Karius kept out Bayer Leverkusen left-forward Heung-Min Son's header.

Karius Negatives

There is a Reina-esque tendency in Karius to dig himself into a hole. 

He carelessly kicked the ball to Meyer and inadvertently threw the ball to Bittencourt.

Though, Karius conjured up a moment of brilliance on both occasions to atone. 

His risky play kept then-Mainz manager Thomas Tuchel (replaced by Kasper Hjulmand) on edge. 

Karius' absent-mindedness becomes a problem when he commits errors leading to goals conceded.

Leaving a gap, Karius allowed then-Hamburg (now Bayer Leverkusen) left attacking midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu to sneak a goal. 

Red Bull Salzburg's Eintracht Braunschweig loanee Havard Nielsen's innocuous shot inexplicably bypassed Karius. 

Then-Nurnberg (now Copenhagen) centre-back Per Nilsson scored via a header because of Karius' fumble. 

Inconsistent play from Karius meant German publications Bild and Kicker were not sold on him. 

  • Bild: 9th best Bundesliga goalkeeper.
  • Kicker: 13th best Bundesliga goalkeeper.

Credit: Bild.de

Credit: Kicker.de

There are two other concerns:

  • Karius lacks top-flight experience having only played 24 Bundesliga games.
  • He packed it in after failing to make in-roads at Manchester City, so will he be comfortable going out of his comfort zone again?

Bottom Line

Benfica correctly projected Jan Oblak's upside after signing him from Olimpija in 2010. 

Oblak is one of the most talented goalkeepers of his generation and was offloaded to Atletico Madrid for €16/£12.6 million.

Therefore, Benfica targeting Karius suggests the Portuguese Primeira Liga club believe he can rise to prominence like Oblak. 

Benfica are leading lights in terms of signing world-class prospects before Europe's wealthiest clubs do. 

Liverpool know this first-hand after paying Benfica €25.3/£20 million for Lazar Markovic.

In 2009, teams were wining and dining Karius, a Stuttgart wunderkind.

"70 percent of Premier League sides wanted Loris," Karius' agent Klaus Gerster said, per Stuttgarter Nachrichten (h/t Thomas Zocher at Sky Sports). "Loris signed a three-year contract in Manchester last week."

"There was an exorbitant amount of money involved," Stuttgart's youth coordinator Thomas Allbeck said, per Stuttgarter Nachrichten (via Zocher's Sky Sports report). "We cannot afford this and we are also unwilling to keep up with this.

Five years later, Karius may have taken a diversion route in his career, but he is living up to initial expectations.

He is a physically imposing goalkeeper with world-class potential, thus he should be on Liverpool's list of potential replacements for Reina. 

Benfica are not close to signing Karius, so there is time for Liverpool to beat the Portuguese club to the German goalkeeper. 

If Karius becomes a Liverpool player, manager Brendan Rodgers will have a viable option to bench the mercurial Simon Mignolet should the Belgian international get into a funk. 



Statistics via WhoScored