This is a sentiment that will be agreed with and dissented in equal measure, but for our money the goalkeeper is the most important player in any football team.
They can earn their side points single-handedly – look at David de Gea at Manchester United, without whom Jose Mourinho’s side would well and truly be in the doldrums. More than that, they instil confidence in the defenders in front of them; or inspire short-shredding anxiety, in Liverpool’s case.
It’s fair to say that the jury is well and truly out on both Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius, and neither has suggested they are the answer to a long-standing problem we have faced since, quite possibly, Pepe Reina’s absence.
If we are to establish ourselves as genuine Premier League title contenders, then Jurgen Klopp has to splash out on a new keeper in the summer. Manchester City signed Ederson, who appears to have solved Pep Guardiola’s demands as a shot-stopper who is good with both hands and feet, while last season’s champions Chelsea had the excellent Thibaut Courtois. Even Leicester, when they shocked the world by lifting the trophy, had the reliable Kasper Schmeichel to call upon.
So Jurgen, if you’re reading this, here’s a shopping list for you to mull over. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and right now the goalkeeping situation is preventing Liverpool from taking that next step forward.
Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)
If you want to be the best, you have to sign the best. And they don’t come much better than Jan Oblak.
The Slovenian is little known outside of Spain, but anybody who watches him between the sticks regularly for Atletico Madrid will know that he is very much the real deal.
He’s a big lad who can handle the physical side of the game, and yet his basic goalkeeping skills are absolute bulletproof. Think Petr Cech at his absolute best for Chelsea.
With plenty of Champions League experience under his belt, Oblak would not come cheap but with Atletico Madrid hitting something of a ceiling in La Liga you wonder if a move to pastures new might suit.
Alisson (AS Roma)
If the rumours are to be believed, Klopp has already expressed a mild interest in signing Roma’s number one, Alisson.
The Brazilian continues to earn rave reviews for his performances in Serie A, with his side conceding just 19 goals in 24 outings this term.
News reports suggest, however, that the Reds have pulled the plug on any potential deal after Roma slapped a £70 million price tag on their stopper. As mentioned, keepers can earn points on their own when on form, so it seems strange that we would refuse to spend that much on a net-tender given the amounts spent on full backs worldwide!
An inability to speak English may just rule out Alisson for the time being anyway, given that our back four – Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson – are all fluent in the queens.
Jasper Cillessen (Barcelona)
The Dutchman has been unable to establish himself as Barcelona’s number one due to the continued excellent form of Marc-Andre Ter Stegen; that’s partly because, let’s face it, in La Liga action the side’s keeper doesn’t have much to do!
What is particularly appealing about the former Ajax stopper is that he is incredibly adept with his feet, and is very much in the lineage of the modern ‘sweeper keeper’ that has become de rigour of late.
From a strategic point of view that’s handy, because it means Klopp can play his high pressing game and have Cillessen picking up the pieces from any long balls pumped into our half of the pitch.
As a current understudy, he shouldn’t break the bank either.
Nick Pope (Burnley)
Burnley continue to shock and surprise with their consistency in the Premier League, and the foundation of their excellence is undoubtedly their defensive organisation; only three teams have conceded fewer goals than the Clarets in the top flight this term.
They are, occasionally, outclassed however, and at these times they call upon the reflexes and agility of Nick Pope, the 25-year-old who has well and truly come to the party since stepping into the breach left by the injured Tom Heaton.
Pope is solid and dependable, and while he may not be the kind of big name signing that many around Anfield way crave, he would at least be a more solid custodian between the sticks than the error-prone Mignolet and Karius.