Goalkeeper Loris Karius begins his quest to depose Simon Mignolet with a debut against Derby – but Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists he does not have a number one in mind.
The Germany international, a £4.7million summer signing from Mainz, looked set to start the season in the team until an untimely injury in the latter stages of the club’s pre-season tour to the United States sidelined him.
Karius had an operation to have wires inserted in his right hand after breaking a bone but having been on the bench for the last two matches, he will now get his first competitive appearance in the third round of the EFL Cup.
The 23-year-old German has not hidden his ambition to displace Mignolet, who has failed to fully convince in three seasons at Anfield, by asking for – and receiving – the number one jersey on his arrival.
Klopp, however, is adamant he has not already singled out his compatriot to become the long-term first choice and stressed selection will only be based on performances.
“I know where your question should lead but the thing we wanted was to have two really strong goalkeepers and I think that is what we have,” said the Reds boss after confirming Karius would start against the Sky Bet Championship side.
Asked whether Mignolet would remain first-choice for Saturday’s Premier League visit of Hull, he added: “Where is my possibility to answer?
“When I say ‘Yes’ what will this mean for Loris? If I say ‘No’ what will it mean for Simon?
“Maybe the question makes sense but the answer doesn’t.
“There is no number one so there is no decision to make, it is all about performing, improvement and showing how much you can help the team.
“You need a manager who increases your confidence. The pressure on the players is big enough so I don’t have to make any more.
“I don’t want to make a big battle of these two goalkeepers. They need to feel secure.
“In the end if I have a feeling for something then I will change or not but it is not about because we paid money for Loris and we didn’t pay money last year for Simon that makes the decision.
“It is all about what I see in training and what I see in training is two very good goalkeepers.
“Now the boys have to perform.”
Klopp on German keepers
Nevertheless, Klopp does rate German goalkeepers and there will undoubtedly be pressure on Mignolet.
“He was a really strong Bundesliga goalkeeper. Germany is a goalkeeper country so we have no issues with goalkeepers,” he said.
“I would say at the moment, the best goalkeeper (Manuel Neuer) in the world plays at Bayern Munich.
“We’ve not always had the best in the world but we’ve always had good ones and it’s a kind of mentality.
“He had an advantage in pre-season but he couldn’t use it because of the injury and Simon came back (from extended leave after Euro 2016) exactly in this moment and did a brilliant job.”