COMMENT: High noon at Filbert Street: A tale of two keepers. Or is that three? Four? No, let's make it five. They've all had their say this past week...
In the aftermath, Jurgen Klopp was right. If Alisson's going to try it. If he's going to do his daft Cruyff turn. Better to do it - and cock up - when you're 2-0 up at Leicester City and only four games into the new season. You've tried it. Lesson learned. Now put it away.
Watching on, no doubt bemused, was Simon Mignolet. Klopp announcing the Belgian on Friday as Alisson's permanent backup - with a hefty rebuke to put him in his place. Mignolet will know he could've done better at times during his Liverpool career. But he's never tried a Cruyff turn anywhere on the pitch - let alone inside his own area.
But there'll be no hope for the Belgian. No sense of forcing his way into Klopp's thinking. He's been there, done that. Just as by December last season he was shunted for Loris Karius, Mignolet knows there's no point hoping for a tap on the shoulder from his manager. Alisson is Klopp's man.
But as bad as the Brazilian's blunder was on Saturday, it had nothing on Mignolet's outburst last week. The timing could not have been worse. If you're going to draw a line in the sand. Call out your manager. Accuse him of playing favourites. You do it when your target has some room to manoeuvre. But what was Klopp to do last week? Karius had gone. Danny Ward, we'll touch on him in a moment, had also. There was nowhere his manager to go. The moment for Mignolet to speak out was before getting wind of Karius being in talks with Besiktas. Not a few days after the fact.
"I find it bizarre that Karius is loaned, while I also had options to be loaned," snapped Mignolet. "But for some reason that was not possible. A goalkeeper who got the preference on me last year may leave on a loan basis. Strange."
And so from that, Klopp could only go one way. But in his response on Friday, the German did offer more than just a sting in the tail.
"If you want to say something, say it to me directly than to a newspaper," was Klopp's reply, before noting as Alisson's cover, “He's on pretty good pay at Liverpool by the way."
This was more than a jab. More than, 'you should be grateful for what you have'. Because within hours we were getting news of Mignolet turning down a chance to get away before last month's transfer deadline.
From Mignolet's side, as mentioned in his outburst, Liverpool refused to consider the Belgian leaving on-loan. It had to be a straight sale. And this column can confirm the claims. An intermediary close to Napoli told us last month the Azzurri had contacted Liverpool for Mignolet. But the deal could only be temporary due to injury concerns for their new signing from Udinese, Alex Meret. Mignolet fancied it. But Liverpool refused to budge. It had to be a £10m sale or no deal. Napoli, where their movie mogul president Aurelio de Laurentiis is definitely no soft touch, eventually switched sights to David Ospina, who is now on-loan from Arsenal for the year.
But before we fall for Mignolet's sympathy card, we now know there was a club willing to meet Liverpool's valuation. For within hours of Klopp's reproach, it broke that Fulham had had an offer accepted for the goalkeeper - but he turned it down. The reason? A move to Craven Cottage would've included a necessary cut on wages. That "pretty good pay" line doesn't appear so throwaway now...
So what has been the result of that outburst? Basically sod all. Unless you want to count an angry manager. Disappointed teammates. And a potential backlash from the Kop. But in terms of status, nowt's changed for Mignolet. Just as he ended last season, he was still on the bench on Saturday.
And looking over from the home dugout was Danny Ward. Who must be rethinking his decision to swap Anfield for the King Power this summer. The first game against his old club and, well, he didn't warrant mention. It was like he was a ghost. And making matters worse, on the same day - that morning - it's announced Kasper Schmeichel has signed a new five-year contract. As Mignolet said, "number two or number three makes little difference. Playing minutes are the most important" - which Ward will be doing little of as a Leicester player.
And given the spite in Mignolet's words last week, it'll kill him. But the one to come out on top in all this, even after Kiev, is Karius. Mignolet is benched. So is Ward. But Karius is all set to make his debut today at Bursaspor. And with the full backing of not only coach Senol Gomes, but more importantly Fikret Orman, the Besiktas president.
Yes, Mignolet can rightly say it should've been him. And it's tough to take a side in this mess. But he also had the chance to stay in the Premier League, but the 'sacrifice' was too much. Instead, as Klopp says, he can enjoy being the best paid backup in the country.
Who'd be a keeper...?
Need a VPN? Or seeking to switch? Then support Tribal Football by clicking here to sign up with our official partners NordVPN. Not only will you receive the best VPN experience, but also great discounts by signing up via Tribal Football. Thanks for your support!