English giants, Liverpool have successfully booked a slot in the Champions League next season on the back of a sensational start to the campaign, drop in performance due to injuries and a strong finish when the stakes were high. Manager Jurgen Klopp decided to reinvigorate the squad with quality additions like goalkeeper Loris Karius, midfielder Gini Wijnaldum and Southampton star Sadio Mane.
Sadly, Bundesliga recruit Karius was unable to replicate his form in a new league which handed a God-send opportunity to Simon Mignolet. Mignolet’s performances revived his stuttering career and can be rightly hailed as one of Liverpool’s Messiah’s this season.
Let’s take a look at other such players who performed above/below expectations:
Sadio Mane: Highlight Of The Season
Sadio Mane’s arrival at Anfield was not received with a great deal of enthusiasm by loyalists who preferred to maintain a stoic silence indicating their disapproval. Most of the fans preferred the experienced and proven German Bayern Munich midfielder Mario Gotze as Liverpool’s marquee acquisition with Mane written off as “yet another Southampton player.” The 24-year-old has set the stands on fire with his spectacular performances in his first season at Anfield smashing goals mercilessly and slowly dethroning Coutinho as the main man.
The Senegalese kicked off proceedings on a perfect note against the Gunners with his jaw-dropping pace and end product in the final third setting him apart from the rest as one of the best in the business. 13 goals in just 29 appearances represent a perfect return on investment with no drop in gameplay against even rock solid outfits like West Brom and Tottenham.
His absence due to International commitments at the AFCON was sorely felt by the side with below-par performances recorded in his absence which made his importance to the side crystal clear.
Loris Karius: Underwhelming Season
Loris Karius’s jaw-dropping saves and stunning performances in the Bundesliga for Mainz 05 raised him to the pedestal only reserved for the best. An out of form Mignolet had just cost the Kopites a spot in the Champions League which urged Klopp to invest in his services.
Sadly, Karius who earned a hero’s welcome and much love from the fans failed to replicate his glowing reputation on the pitch. His awful positioning and failure to pull off saves with some horrible clearances to go with that finally resulted in a spot on the bench with Mignolet grabbing the opportunity gleefully.
Simon Mignolet: Unexpected Hero
The Belgian had to bear a great deal of criticism from supporters at the end of the 2015/16 season after his shambolic performances in goal with many calling for his head.
Football, on the other hand, is an unexpected game with many unpredictable outcomes possible. Mignolet grabbed the opportunity presented to him after Karius’s failure with both hands pulling off one save after the other and ensuring reliability in the goalkeeping department.
The 2016/17 season was a welcome boost to his fledgeling career with the fans further convinced about his potential.
Georginio Wijnaldum: Silent Warrior
The Oranje midfielder was signed by Jurgen Klopp after being impressed by his heroics at relegated outfit Newcastle United. His ability to score and pass the ball accurately in midfield convinced the German manager to place faith in his abilities.
Wijnaldum proved his capabilities over and over again throughout the season scoring the winning goal in a crucial 1-0 win over Manchester City and marshalling the midfield at every stage snuffing out attacks. The 25 million fee splurged out by Liverpool seems like a coup at this stage.
Adam Lallana: Stand Out Performer
The former Southampton man was deemed a failure after failing to impress under Brendan Rodgers with many writing him off as another over the top Englishman who had failed to deliver the goods yet again.
Klopp’s arrival at Liverpool gave him the much-needed freedom necessary to flourish for a midfielder boosting his confidence in his capabilities and breathing new life into his career. His work rate has been a key part of Liverpool’s success with the Englishman intercepting passes, threading across passes and generating momentum.
11 goals and 7 assists in 48 appearances with 1.7 shots per game and a pass success rate of 84.4% make it all the more admirable.