There’s always a couple of shocks during the summer transfer window but it appears we’ve had the most shocking rumour of all come out in the last day or so.
The much-maligned Simon Mignolet is now being linked with a move to, of all places, Spanish champions Barcelona.
The departure of Mignolet from Anfield is not a surprise to many following the world record arrival of Alisson Becker from Roma but it is the destination that has surprised many football fans.
So, is there merit to Barcelona’s interest?
Brought in as a replacement for the popular Pepe Reina in 2013, Mignolet has played well over 200 games for Liverpool. In that time, he has been routinely criticised by Reds fans for a host of errors and poor performances but the Belgian has more often than not bounced back.
He’s seen off the challenges of Brad Jones and Adam Bogdan and has spent the last two seasons battling closely with German Loris Karius for the number one jersey. He spent the second half of 2017/18 on the bench however with Karius showing good form at the back end of the Premier League season.
To draw a well-rounded comparison, I’ve chosen to compare the Belgian stopper with teammate Loris Karius; current Barca number one Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and another rumoured Barcelona target, Antonio Adan.
With Mignolet set to be a backup to Ter Stegen, it is no surprise then to see the Barca number one trounce the Belgian in all categories. While Ter Stegen played 14 more games than Mignolet, he kept considerably more clean sheets (18 to Mignolet’s 3); fewer errors leading to a goal (0 to Mignolet’s 2) and more saves per goal (4.11 to Mignolet’s rather shoddy 0.95). The numbers show a considerable gulf in class which is to be expected with Ter Stegen a top-notch goalkeeper.
So, how does Mignolet compare to his own teammate? In a word: badly. They played half a league season each but the differences are staggering. Karius managed ten clean sheets in the same number of games and in the process saved more shots (28 to 20) and made zero errors leading to a goal. In fact, the only area where Mignolet defeated Karius was distribution accuracy with 75% to Karius’ 72%.
Finally, what about when you compare Mignolet to another Barca target in Adan? Again, it’s not positive reading for Mignolet. While Adan’s stats are not wildly impressive, he still managed to keep more clean sheets (9 to 3); make more saves (78 to 20) and make fewer errors leading to a goal (1 to 2). Again, the only area Mignolet defeats the former Real Madrid man is in distribution accuracy where Adan scored a disappointing 69%.
Personally, I’ve never been a massive fan of Mignolet at Liverpool. He’s always struck me as a goalkeeper who is great on his line but who is completely lost once he has to leave it. Stick him in a side like he was at with Sunderland and he looks great. Put him in goal at Liverpool and he’s exposed.
If Barcelona really want a backup goalkeeper then there are plenty more reliable options out there. A real head scratcher this one.