13 Mar 2015

'Miracle' star raves: 'Liverpool' is one of the 'world's top clubs'. Anfield-bound?

Liverpool are currently linked with summer move for Atalanta goalkeeper Marco Sportiello, but as is so often the case with transfers, it looks like the Reds are s**t outta luck.

Last week, the Daily Mail claimed that Liverpool are 'watching' Sportiello, but when asked on Thursday about Liverpool's interest, the 22-year old stopper appeared to politely rule out a move to Anfield. He told Italian newspaper L'Eco di Bergamo:

"Liverpool are definitely a great club - one of the top clubs in the world. However, I am happy to be here. This is my first year as a starter and I recently signed a new contract with Atalanta"

Sportiello's primary stats this season:

* 37 goals conceded in 26 games (1.4 goals per game)
* 7 clean sheets (27% of games - 1 every 3.7 apps)
* Saves: 96 (3.6 per game - Saves 72% of shots on goal)
* Career Total: 75 goals conceded in 68 games (1.1 per game)
* 23 clean sheets (34% of games - 1 every 2.9 apps)

Creditable stats overall. How does Sportiello - described this month by now-deposed Atalanta coach as Stefano Colantuolo as a 'miracle' goalkeeper' - compare to Simon Mignolet this season?

* 42 goals conceded in 43 games (1.02 goals per game)
* 14 clean sheets (33% of games - 1 every 3 apps)
* Saves: 102 (2.3 per game - Saves 70% of shots on goal)

Mignolet is marginally more effective this season, but like the Belgian, Sportiello is clearly an effective shot-stopper, and his career total is basically in line with Mignolet's average for this season.

If Liverpool are focusing on younger goalkeepers, it almost certainly means that Rodgers has granted Mignolet a stay of execution, and is planning on bringing in a new 'keeper to challenge rather than replace him.

In my view, that's a mistake. Mignolet should've replaced last summer, but Rodgers failed to act, and Liverpool suffered the consequences. The manager needs to be ruthless, and relying in the Belgian again next season is a recipe for disaster.



  1. In an ideal world we'd get somebody like Cech in to fill the void for a couple of seasons and if the budget allowed I'd like a young German 'keeper such as Karius or Ter Stegen. Both players are very composed, physically imposing in the area and have extremely good distribution. Lots of Italian youngsters get mentioned Perin, Sportiello, etc. But I fear their ability in the air and how often their saves are parried back into the path of opposition players would be a big liability.

  2. Agreed. A top top GK is essential for success.

  3. It will be the Australian boy - thats my bet but then I am still waiting for a placed horse at Cheltenham this week

  4. Can't disagree with that, players like Cech, De Gea, Courtois, Lloris and Neuer have been invaluable to their teams in the past few years.

  5. Ryan looks good, especially considering "value for money". I just worry that the standard of football in Belgium means he's not been particularly tested. Plus he's pretty short for a goalkeeper. He's a brave lad though and is another 'keeper with good distribution.

  6. Andrew Van Honkel7:34 am, March 13, 2015

    You may want to amend Mignolet's goals per game ratio. It should be less than 1.

  7. Think so too, in EPL, that is. And only two keepers with more clean sheets actually..

  8. Can't trust the goalkeeper stats as there are too many other factors to consider,

    This is what i heard the spokesman for one of the leading stat companies said on radio 5 a few weeks back.

  9. That is my opinion too, but while we are talking about it...
    In case of the best keepers, good stats follow though an average keeper can have them too.

  10. I think that Belgium is good place for development of a keeper, lots of attacking football there, and if you play aainst Standard or Anderleht it usualy means 12 (good) shots to save...

  11. I'm not so concerned about Mignolet any more. He had a bad period as many keepers do but he's recovered well. It take mental strength to do that, a willingness to learn and adjust. He's not a world beater but I think going out and buying a brand new keeper to simply replace him 100% is not needed. I think someone like Ter Stegan, even if it's only on loan, is one possible right move. A very talented young keeper with something to prove who will be first choice only if he absolutely deserves it. Chelsea have managed that with Courtois who ousted Cech, one of the clubs most decorated players. Cech has been good for a long time but Courtois just forced his way into the side and has proven himself as top class.

    Bringing in a certain starter means you might as well sell Mignolet, it would be a waste to have him sitting on the bench. Then what you're doing is selling your first choice keeper of the past two years and starting from scratch with a new one and who knows who as backup. I guess it's possible that a new keeper will simply arrive and instantly gel with the rest of the defence but I think it's unlikely. The combination between keeper and defender is just as important as the combination of the defenders themselves and even someone experienced like Cech will take a little time to get used to what Rodgers is trying to do. There is no way that the way Chelsea play is similar to the way Liverpool play, the approach to the game is totally different and Chelsea have always had that ability to park the bus and play negative football. I don't care how many years a keeper has been at it, Liverpool's defence is a troubling business and there are simply no guarantees.

    Cech is a good option because he's experienced but, although many won't agree with me, I think Mignolet is capable of challenging him. I'd like to see the two of them push each other for the number 1 jersey, I think it would be a close battle and Mignolet has a head start. Otherwise Ter Stegan is a good option because he's young and has been on the sidelines for a little while. You'd assume he's good enough to take over from Migs but it's again no guarantee. I think those two kinds of options would create the right competitive environment for the keepers to reach their highest level. One of them will miss out but the one who succeeds will be a rock for the team.

    Otherwise if it's someone like Matt Ryan then obviously Migs stays as the most likely first choice. I wouldn't be personally worried if that happened. Just check out the defensive stats for Liverpool over the past 11 league games since Mignolet came back, they are pretty decent, up there with the top defensive sides in England. The problem for Liverpool is obviously consistency but the potential is there for really solid defensive performances. Mignolet has been at the heart of that so why can't it continue?

  12. I don't understand how you can compare the two GKs stats and then come to the conclusion that Mignolet's are slightly better. You can't compare GKs going by the number of clean sheets and the goals conceded. Mignolet plays for a team fighting it out near the top of the table whereas Atlanta are in a relegation battle so you can immediately dismiss any statistics regarding clean sheets and goals conceded. Thus that leaves the only creditable statics being saves made (although this is still a debatable stat) and Sportiello has the higher % so therefore I would argue he has the slightly better stats.

    End of the day comparing those statistics for a GK is a complete waste of time IMO.

  13. I don't think Mignolet is as bad as everyone makes out. Is he top drawer or ever likely to be? Doubtful.
    IMO we have 2 options:
    1. Go get a top drawer keeper - not many available at reasonable money except Cech.
    2. If we can't get Cech get a young keeper with potential to be top drawer one day, until then he will hopefully challenge and push Mignolet.

    What about trying to lure Butland? Stoke would probably accept a reasonable profit on him (signed for 6 million, sell for 9 million with add-ons), is he good enough?

  14. In principal I agree with you, but there's also a large difference in saving shots from the Aguero's of this world to the best shot-makers in the Jupiler League, somebody like Mitrovic is probably the most potent striker in that league. On the other hand, Courtois began at Genk and that move paid off for Chelsea, but they can gamble a bit more than us and plus Courtois is half a foot taller than Ryan, and despite Ryan's bravery, height could be a big problem challenging for balls in the English game.

  15. I would go for Mat Ryan, the Aussie keeper, won keeper of the tournament at the Asian Cup, has won the best keeper in the Belgian League twice and he's only been at Club Brugge for 2 seasons, he is still only 22, his distribution is world class, he is a tremendous shot stopper, he has the potential to be one of the top 5 keepers in the world.

  16. He is also playing in the Europa league, in fact he just recently played against Besiktas, which Club Brugge won 2-1 and he looked very solid. I don't think height would be an issue for him, being Australian, I have had a close eye on his career and the A-League is a fairly physical league with big players and at the age of 19 he was playing and commanding the area. You will obviously say the A-League isn't the same as the Premier League and rightly so, but my point is to illustrate that not being particularly tall for a keeper isn't something that is bad for him as he has good leaping ability and can read the game very well and has excellent timing.

  17. Although I share many of the concerns about his height, he's about the same size as Barthez and Casillas. Being about 6'0 doesn't preclude you from being a top shelf keeper. Having played professionally myself, 90% of the work is positioning. One step out of position and you lose any height advantage.

  18. I would like Ryan to come in essentially as a second keeper to replace Jones although i rate Ryan i dont want to see him have the burden associated with being no 1 at Liverpool.
    I dont think he is ready quite yet but is a big improvement on Jones who doesnt get a look in as an Aussie squad member anymore.

  19. I can confirm that I stepped out of line once and now i am only 5' 8" ;-)

  20. Yes but BR seems intent on continuing his experiment with a false number 1