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Under our Talent Radar banner, we have constantly strived to document and highlight the progress of the younger stars of the beautiful game, before they progress into household names. Our latest initiative within the burgeoning Talent Radar section is the introduction of #The10 feature.
This annual feature champions the combination of youth & diversity, as we look to reward 10 of the best young individuals across 10 primary categories. The fifth piece looks at the best young star in between the posts.
For all queries regarding this feature, eligibility and selection process, read this piece.
In the land of overflowing goalkeeping talent, Loris Karius is one of the men to be taken seriously as competition to the undisputed number 1- Manuel Neuer. The 22 year old currently plays for Mainz, but was on the books of Manchester City for 3 years. He made his debut in trying circumstances, coming on as a substitute after the first choice goalkeeper was sent off. Karius started off among the youth ranks of Stuttgart, before moving to Manchester City. He couldn’t really get a break through there, and ended up making the move back home with FSV Mainz.
So far, he’s represented Germany’s age groups teams, with the U21’s being the highest international level he’s played at. Of course, that might be up for changing with the Euro’s coming up, and him being in excellent form for his club side. The Mainz keeper also went on to win the Keeper of the Season award at the 2014-15 Talent Radar Awards, also managing to make an appearance in the Team of the Season.
2015 has been a watershed year for Karius, as he has emerged as one of the best young keepers in a country that is producing top young keepers at an alarming rate. 8 clean sheets so far in the calendar year are a slightly unfair reflection of his performances between the sticks, as he’s consistently featured on our Talent Radar Team of the Week while most often being faced against superior opposition and a weakened defence.
The most impressive aspect of Karius’ game is the ability to make stunning point blank saves. He’s made some pretty incredible stops in the past, and a highlight reel featuring him is never dull. This season, he’s also becoming a bit of a penalty jinx, and he’s saved 2 pens, while conceded a goal from just one. A burgeoning reputation which is being built on some solid foundations
Karius has emerged as one of the best keepers in Germany, and not without reason. His super quick reflexes, and amazing point blank saves make him a tough man to have in goal. He averages about 2 saves for every goal he concedes, and this is a healthy average which can only get better if he has a stronger defence in front of him.
Another important, but underrated trait, is his ability to come and claim the ball with confidence and without ambiguity. 88% success when trying to claim is a decent enough rate, and a very important part of being able to defend set pieces. Keep in mind that young keepers playing regular first-team football are rare, and ones that do take up this critical position have to have an immense mental preparedness at an extremely early age. With over 70 professional games to his name, Karius is certainly getting to the level a keeper a couple of years senior to him would have to be at.
Too often youngsters get turned by the lure of pastures new and tempting offers elsewhere, but as a keeper it’s easy to fall into the trap of second choice at a more successful club to the one they’re currently experiencing. No Mainz isn’t a dream club for most players, and isn’t where an ambitious Karius would want to be at. But when a club in the top flight of one of Europe’s biggest leagues offers the opportunity for a young keeper to play week in and week out, it’s a chance a 22-year-old man in gloves should jump at. For 2016 atleast and until he manages to sharpen out the raw edges, there’s no better place than Mainz at the moment.
Though off late, Karius has been linked with a lot of different clubs (with Aston Villa a constant suitor while names like Liverpool and Dortmund have always been thrown into the reflecting the steady rise of the player’s reputation), that tempting urge needs to be contained.
Of course, it will be very difficult for him to break into Low’s plans because of the presence of the mighty Neuer and the plethora of keeping options the defending world champions have. Euro 2016 would be an unlikely dream, but the potential to displace a nearly 30-year-old Neuer in the coming seasons does exist.
“Karius is one of the most consistent and talented young goalkeepers in Europe which says a lot considering Germany’s tradition of developing world class players in that position and the large pool of talent available. Karius excels especially in reading of the game similar to Ter Stegen and Neuer and being part of building the game out of the back at Mainz. He has an excellent future ahead of him, whether that’s in the Bundesliga or abroad.”
And here’s what Alex Chaffer of Sky Sports, DW Sports and FourFourTwo told us about the German youngster.
“Loris Karius has proven to be one of the most consistent young goalkeepers in Europe, while playing in a league saturated by top shot-stoppers. Since taking over the goalkeeping reigns from veteran Heinz Müller at Mainz two seasons ago, the now 22-year old has shone in the lovable team. He broke the club’s Bundesliga record for clean sheets with 11 last season and has earned a place in the Germany U21 team. With so many goalkeepers to watch in the Bundesliga, Karius has taken advantage of his limited spotlight time to quietly improve over his short career. I expect it to continue.”
While plenty of upcoming young keepers are regularly seen across the world of football, very few convincing stand out as much as Loris Karius, who had just one real competitor for this spot in #The10 feature.
Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak has certainly come of age, continuing Atletico’s excellent recent track record of young keepers (David De Gea and Thibaut Courtois before him). Both these individuals were also recognised in our 2014-15 Talent Radar Awards. The Slovak may certainly have a more solid shot at this next year as he establishes himself in the first team in Madrid.
This is how The 10 Young Stars of 2015 feature currently looks, as we reveal each individual, piece by piece. Next up is the North American representative.
Read about all the players feature in #The10, right here.