Simon Mignolet has revealed he is relishing the “fresh competition” in his position at Liverpool this season after Liverpool’s summer additions of Loris Karius and the experienced Alex Manninger.
Mignolet has started the season in between the sticks despite Karius being expected to begin the season as the Reds’ number one goalkeeper after being brought to the club earlier in the summer.
The German showed good form during pre-season and even rejected the chance to join up with the German squad that competed in the Rio Olympics to increase his chances of being selected as Jürgen Klopp’s number one.
However, unfortunately his bid to be Liverpool’s number one was cut short when he suffered a broken hand during Liverpool’s pre-season US tour and he has been on the road to recovery ever since whilst Mignolet has stepped in but the German is now close to full fitness and Mignolet knows he now has a fight on his hands to keep his place.
Despite the rivalry for a first team place Mignolet praised both keepers, especially the influence of Alex Manninger “as all three of us get on well.”
“I have already learned a lot from Alex. He is someone who has worked throughout Europe and gives me a lot of confidence.”
Mignolet penned a new contract last season and was told “there would be fresh competition” by the club but the Belgian explained this is the “normal thing” when a top club has “three competitive goalkeepers” competing for a place in the team.
Upon signing that contract the Reds stopper revealed he was offered the chance to move to the number one shirt but Mignolet “never wanted it.”
“For me it's always been number 22. I’ve worn it throughout my career, all the way from STVV. It's always felt good to me.”
Competition is not unknown to Mignolet as he has experienced it his “entire career” so it is normal. He just needs to “look after my own performance” because a new goalkeeping arrival changes “nothing” and the Belgian will continue to “work hard, keep both feet on the ground and have confidence.”
Mignolet content with his start to the season
The Belgian international believes he can “look back on a positive start” to his own season which began with a “good preparation” during pre-season which included the “4-0 victory against Barcelona.”
Mignolet is his own biggest critic and “will always look to improve” but doesn’t believe he can knock “myself up to much for any of the goals we have conceded.” He reflects on a clean sheet in the League Cup against Burton as another positive.
“I stopped a penalty against Arsenal and saved the header from Toby against Tottenham. Then at Burnley we were the better team and we had 80 per cent of the possession, but they scored twice on the counter.”
Mignolet noted that “unfortunately we have conceded six goals” so far this season but this is due to the style Liverpool play which is “very offensive.” The no.22 believes that because the “focus is on the ball and creating chances” it means Liverpool can “produce good results like Arsenal and Tottenham” but makes the Reds “vulnerable to the counter attack.”
“The next step we must take as a team," Mignolet began, before adding, "is to make sure that we contain that counter threat. In that sense our match on Saturday against Leicester is a good test.”
Mignolet is looking ahead to Liverpool’s next fixture which sees them face the reigning champions Leicester City at Anfield. The shot stopper is excited about the “first match in the new Anfield” but knows the dangers Leicester pose.
"We will be looking to attack. But in Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez Leicester have two lightning quick strikers.”
For Mignolet though it is an important game to win if Liverpool want to achieve their aim of Champions League football next season. Leicester are taking part in the competition after their success last season and will be looking to rival Liverpool for a place in the top four again this season. It’s not the only objective Mignolet believes Liverpool should have either;
“This year it should definitely be our goal to finish in the top four - and also to do well in the two cup competitions.”