Is Simon Mignolet really the difference between Liverpool qualifying for the Champions League or not?
Liverpool completed the £9 million signing of Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet earlier this week. A decent signing, we can probably all agree.
The Belgian has acquitted himself very well in his time at the Stadium of Light. The 25-year-old has gone from Black Cats benchwarmer to one of the best keepers in the Premier League over the last couple of seasons.
With rumours of Pepe Reina’s move to Barcelona persisting, it seems like a sensible bit of business by Brendan Rodgers. But the bookies appear to have put even more faith in Mignolet than Rodgers. His arrival has coincided with the odds on the Reds qualifying for the Champions League tumbling.
Indeed, since Mignolet put pen to paper, Liverpool are 2/1 to finish in the top four.
The until now consistently reliable Reina was a little out of sorts last season. Although many Liverpool supporters are keen for their Spanish stopper to remain at Anfield, some statisticians suggest that Reina errors were directly responsible for Rodgers’ side dropping 14 points last season. Unsurprisingly, the bookies are going with those statistics.
Still, it is difficult to see how Mignolet’s arrival is seen as much of a step towards qualification, especially when the club now seems destined to lose Luis Suarez this summer.
Yes, Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho deputised excellently when Suarez was absent at the end of last term. And yes, Rodgers has already been strengthening his attack this summer.
But Suarez remains a cut above the striking options Rodgers appears likely to have at his disposal next season. You have to suspect that his departure will significantly harm the efforts to bring Champions League football back to Anfield.
It will be interesting to see if the odds on a top four finish drift if the Uruguayan does complete his widely anticipated switch to Real Madrid.