For seemingly the want of better things to do, the rumour mill continues to churn out the line that Liverpool are poised to move for free agent goalkeeper Victor Valdes.
The Daily Express are the latest to report the former Barcelona man will be parachuted into Anfield just as soon as he recovers from knee surgery, with Brendan Rodgers reportedly growing increasingly frustrated with incumbent stopper Simon Mignolet.
It would appear that Kop hero and Sky Sports expert Jamie Carragher, who used his Monday Night Football soapbox to slight the under-fire Belgian, shares his grievances:
“Up until now in his Liverpool career he hasn’t made those big saves. If it continues I can see Liverpool looking for another goalkeeper. There was talk of Victor Valdes because he is a free agent, but he has got to improve.”
The ‘big saves’ that the ex-Sunderland keeper has been unable to make were cited as Phil Jagielka’s Merseyside derby wonder strike – an effort that the spawn of Thibaut Courtois and an octopus would have had no chance of getting near.
Demba Ba’s goal in Chelsea’s 2-0 win at Liverpool, that contrived to cost the Reds the league last term, is the other.
If Steven Gerrard hadn’t slipped over at the inopportune moment, Mignolet wouldn’t have had a save to make, while an inability to repel a shot that 999 times out 1,000 ends up in the car park is a contender for the harshest criticism of all time.
The Belgian number two may not have the title-winning experience of other world-class stoppers – an elect group of which Valdes is very much part of – and was chastised with greater intensity towards the end of the previous campaign.
But he doesn’t buy or pick the substandard defenders that are tasked to guard him.
Nor does he select the formation that deprives said rearguard of sufficient midfield cover.
Most elite goalkeepers don’t have to contend with such issues and, as a result, are not placed under anywhere near as much pressure as Mignolet.
He had higher saves per game and stops per concession averages than title-winning keeper Joe Hart last term, with the Manchester City man recording 1.48 and 1.59 in light of the former north east Player of the Year’s respective means of 1.97 and 1.7.
Being forced to make practically two saves every time he took to the field indicates that Mignolet is not getting the protection that your regular top-club goalie is afforded and, until he is, it’s plain unfair to insinuate that he’s below the required level.