Loris Karius hints at Newcastle United 'long project' and candidly reflects on Liverpool experience

The call from Newcastle United was unexpected, but welcome.

Back in September, Loris Karius was weighing up his options as a free agent.

There were a few clubs interested in the goalkeeper, who had been left out of Jurgen Klopp’s squad in his final season at Liverpool.

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However, none of those offers felt right, but an injury suffered by Karl Darlow in training would change everything for Karius.

Eddie Howe needed another goalkeeper – and the club came calling. Karius quickly agreed to a short-term move to Newcastle, which signed No.1 Nick Pope in the summer from Burnley.

“Obviously, I had options, but they didn’t feel like the right options,” said 29-year-old Karius. “When Newcastle called me, I thought it was a great chance to go back to England and maybe show myself and prove myself again.

“Of course, we have four goalkeepers in the squad, but I’m ready when the manager needs me, and the rest of the time I will push and make it difficult for him to make the decision.”

Newcastle United goalkeeper Loris Karius.Newcastle United goalkeeper Loris Karius.
Newcastle United goalkeeper Loris Karius.
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Karius, however, is yet to make his competitive debut, but he made a belated first appearance last week when he played 45 minutes of the club’s friendly against Al Hilal in Saudi Arabia.

The 29-year-old made a series of first-half saves in Riyadh on what was his first start since February last year.

"I mean, obviously the last few seasons have been a setback for me, it has not been easy at times,” said Karius, who didn’t play for Liverpool again after making two mistakes in the 2018 Champions League final.

"I have tried to keep myself fit in training and push myself. (The Al Hilal game) was a friendly match, but, for me, it was a great feeling to get a start again. It felt competitive with a nice crowd. It was good, and it felt like my first game. I’m pleased with how it went. It was very positive."

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.
Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.
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Asked if he was surprised how sharp he felt given his lack of competitive football, Karius said: "No. Because I know how good I am in training.

"So it’s just bringing your training to the game again. But I have got a lot of experience, so I had a good feeling going into the match.

"Of course, you’re a bit nervous, but it was a good feeling leading up to the game. I felt confident, and was pleased with my reactions."

Karius had “lost the feeling” of being involved on a matchday last season.

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"You lose a bit of the feeling you have when you win, lose and travel with the team,” said the former German Under-21 international.

"You just miss it. It's then not easy to stay positive, and keep working. You obviously know you’re not going to be involved. I learned a lot from that, and tried my best in training to keep myself positive on the mental side.

"I've played over 200 games in the first division and national teams, so I knew my qualities. I knew I had plenty to offer. I’m only turning 30, and that's not old for a keeper, but, of course, last season was difficult.”

Karius’ time at Liverpool was all but over after the club’s defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League final.

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Asked what that game had meant for his career, Karius said: "It made me go to another club (Besiktas). It was maybe a move that wouldn't have happened otherwise.

"It was a late move. My time at Liverpool was over, and I was looking to move on – and then there were difficulties to get the transfer done.

"I found myself in a situation where I had to stay at Liverpool knowing I wouldn't get my chance. It was discussed openly with the manager. There's no bad blood, but knowing the situation from the beginning was tough."

Karius has put the game behind him over the past four years.

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"I have said everything about this,” said Karius. "For me, it’s tiring to keep talking about it, it's football and things happen.

"In my case, there were a lot of unfortunate things. But I don't think about it any more. Four years in football feels like eight or 12!"

Karius now has an opportunity to re-establish himself as a Premier League goalkeeper.

“Of course, I’m thankful (to Howe), but then at the end I need to deliver,” said Karius. “I cannot just be thankful and sit there and not perform. That’s not how I work.

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“It was a great chance offered by Newcastle to me, and I have to grab it with both hands and make the best out of it. There’s a chance to stay here possibly, so that’s a good sign. It’s a good reflection of the work in training.”

Karius hopes to be involved next week when Newcastle restart their season following the World Cup with a Carabao Cup tie against Bournemouth.

“I’m a professional, I want to play every game,” said Karius, who has a “fearless” tattoo on his neck. “That’s what we’re here for, but I’m just preparing myself.

“There’s another pre-season game before that (against Real Vallecano on Saturday), so I don’t want to think that far ahead. We’ll be training to keep the level as high as possible.”

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“I spoke with them a little bit,” said Karius. “We didn’t go into too much detail yet, because we had the break after. We’ll speak in the next (few) weeks now, probably.

“It’s not much time left. Yeah, like I said, it’s been a great few months. Of course, I don’t play yet, but how I’ve been training, how I was welcomed by the whole group makes me believe I can achieve more things here.

“That’s my aim, to be here for a long project instead of a short one.”