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23rd Jul 2018

Iker Casillas jumps to defence of Loris Karius as abuse gets personal

Casillas feels the criticism of Karius has been harsh

Patrick McCarry

The levels of abuse Loris Karius has been subjected to over the past three months has been utterly depressing

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp spoke enthusiastically about new goalkeeper Alisson Becker’s desire to start training and playing with the club as soon as possible. Alisson may not be tossed into action straight away but playing on with Loris Karius in goal does not look to be a viable option.

The German is trying to play his way through a performance slump that reared its ugly head in the Champions League final, in May. He was guilty of two woeful mistakes in that loss to Real Madrid but did ship a blow to the head from Sergio Ramos that doctors in the United States deemed to be concussive.

Most football fans are still learning about the effects of concussion. Even the medical experts are discovering more about it as further tests and studies are carried out.

What cannot be escaped, however, is that Karius was never going to be Liverpool’s long-term number one. Champions League final notwithstanding, he rarely convinced Liverpool supporters and, in the semi-final against Roma, did not cover himself in glory.

Becker has arrived on a £62.5m deal and Karius will struggle to get a game when league and European action gets underway. Lump on the personal trauma of knowing you let your teammates down in the biggest game of many of their lives and you can only imagine how the German is feeling.

Karius went from the pinnacle of his career – reaching that final as Liverpool No.1 – to being left to wallow by teammates after the final whistle. To becoming a punchline, and a punch-bag.

We’ve had Irish pundits Eamon Dunphy, Graeme Souness and Didi Hamann all slate him, and his character. We’ve had his personalised car number plate – LK 1 – mocked and were told of his stunning vanity. He was even criticised as a show-off for walking over on his own to apologise to Liverpool fans at the final in Kiev!

Social media has been a no-go area for the lad.

Opposition players have openly abused him on the pitch and every goal he concedes in pre-season friendlies is lampooned. There have been more gaffes – his confidence is shot – but not every goal against Liverpool is his fault.

Blood is in the water and Karius is the prey. It feels as if it is open season on the lad.

It’s worth remembering that the goalkeeper is just 25 and looks certain to have blown his big chance at a top football club. He may recover from this low yet but it will take some time.

It is good to see that some fellow goalies have stepped forward and stood up for one of their own.

Former Real Madrid and Spain No.1 Iker Casillas’ defence was even more passionate. He declared:

‘Will this attack ever end? I’m talking about him like so many other goalkeepers. There are many more serious problems in the world; fuck! Leave the kid alone! He’s also a person. As we all are!’

It is hard not to feel anger against a player when he or she costs your side a match – big or small – but letting that hate fester does no-one any good.

Karius is living through his own personal hell these past few months. He may never reach the heights of last season again and his peak may have been at 25.

Klopp is keen to back him but, with Alisson and Simon Mignolet not back yet after World Cup duty, it is worth him pitching in young goalkeepers Kamil Grabaraand or Caoimhín Kelleher for the next friendly or two.