The six foot four new recruit has done well overall but there is room for improvement
One of the key positions that required addressing over the summer, given the uncertainty surrounding Pepe Reina’s future, was the goalkeeper.
The choice of Simon Mignolet therefore came after much careful consideration and now Liverpool believe they have found Reina’s long-term successor. On the evidence so far the signs look promising, for the most part.
The decision to sign Mignolet was made following the news that the player had been watched for a considerable amount of time last season.
What Sunderland’s player of the year has confirmed in the fixtures he has played in is Rodger’s belief that he is young and hungry to succeed. Add to that how his notable shot-stopping ability were on show, as evinced by his point-blank save to deny Benteke equalising for Villa last month and it seems Mignolet is destined to establish himself as Belgium’s number one.
It was the penalty save on the opening day at home to Stoke however which truly announced his arrival. That has set the tone for the 25-year-old whose commanding presence has seen Liverpool only concede in one league game so far this season.
If there is one, almost less obvious weakness to Mignolet’s game it is his propensity to not get enough distance on his punches and saves away from goal. Usually goalkeepers are told to push shots wide so as to prevent easy tap-ins for the onrushing opposition. If Skrtel had not made a last ditch tackle to deny Bony this would almost certainly have been the case.
This trait has been masked somewhat by the goalkeeper’s more immediate and apparent drawback. His distribution
While this can be worked on it is all the more galling for Liverpool fans nonetheless in the light of manager who champions possession and had the best ball playing goalkeeper in the world in Reina at his disposal.
The Swansea game in particularly demonstrated the point. Mignolet continually coughed up possession, punting high ball after high ball with no particular target in mind and handed the initiative back to the home team.
By the end of the match it wasn’t exactly hard to give some explanation as to why Michael Ladrup’s side had ended up with roughly a staggering 70% possession of the ball.
Clearly these two disadvantages to Mignolet need to be improved and then sustained, but if they are, he can go on to emulate Reina circa 2006-2010. At that point Liverpool could, without hesitation, class him as a truly defining transfer.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald