After being assessed at Massachusetts General Hospital (we will come back to this), doctors have confirmed that Loris Karius was suffering from concussion during the Champions League Final. Dr Zafonte said Karius had suffered from “visual spatial dysfunction”. This is a process which hampers a person’s ability to assimilate visual information about where objects (or opposition strikers) are in space. I don’t doubt the validity of the information, rather I feel that the timing of making this diagnosis publicly available is not ideal for the German.
Karius and His Summer
For Karius, this Summer is key. He is young and yes, he has made mistakes (big ones too) but players can come back from such. David Beckham is generally well regarded and cost England a mighty good stab at the 1998 World Cup, seeing red after lashing out at Diego Simeone. I’m not saying that Karius is in Beckham’s bracket in terms of quality but Beckham did hold his hands up. He used his mistake as a platform to bring forward his quality of composure in the face of pressure.
Karius probably has not had time to process the mistakes he has made. The release of this information is too soon after the Final and people will inevitably assume that he is running away. I don’t see why he would give anybody the opportunity to engage with this. Doctors don’t just publish medical records of patients and although uneasy, the possibility that the club may have pushed for the early release of this information has to be considered.
A Liverpool Decision?
If I were Karius, I would sooner have opted for a while away from the spotlight. The timing of the information released has had the opposite effect. As a result, I find it hard to treat the diagnosis as anything but a blinding (or hideously transparent, whichever you prefer) bit of PR from Liverpool.
Liverpool have an asset on their hands. Currently that asset is worth next to nothing and the only way for them to generate value on it is to destabilise the recent mistakes which have been so costly. The club were reportedly worried about Karius and therefore arranged for an assessment of his injury during his holiday in California but if they were that worried, why wait ten days for a diagnosis you could probably get from a walk-in clinic? Why send him to a hospital to which the club’s owner John W. Henry has previously made numerous grants? I get the impression that Karius has not had much say in this.
What Does This Mean For Karius?
The result of the above is that Karius finds himself in the midst of some sort of pontoon nightmare. He is unsure whether he will be stuck with, or twisted. In the immediate aftermath of the final it was certain Liverpool would buy a keeper and the disclosure of Karius’ concussion has muddied those crystal clear of oceans. John W Henry would not have expected (or wanted) to pay in excess of £50 million for a keeper this Summer but that is the premium Liverpool will pay given the scale of the problem. Is publicising the concussion an excuse for reluctance to spend that much on a keeper? Is it an exercise in boosting the value and confidence of Karius, prepping him for sale? It’s difficult to tell.
An Idealized Option
Of course, there is something larger at stake here. A player was concussed and played the rest of the game, risking catastrophic injury as a result. Maybe the club or Karius have opted to release the information to inspire change. The delayed nature of the symptoms of concussion means it is very difficult to absolutely guarantee player safety and Karius (this isn’t a criticism) did the medical staff no favours by not staying down. Some intricate evidences of concussion can be seen under examination from its offset and since the affected was governed by an obvious adrenaline rush, nobody had the chance. I am sure that this will be (rightly) discussed at length by relevant bodies over the Summer.
The Lazy Fan View
In my view, I’m not sure what the concussion assessment proves. I cannot see the German wanting to propel himself back into the limelight. I am fairly sure that the club have acted to best their position before the transfer window or perhaps even the new season. He made some mistakes in the final but they aren’t isolated events and he still needs to learn from and confront them, irrespective of the concussion.
Had Liverpool lost in the quarter finals to City as a result of Karius hurriedly distributing possession to Van Dijk when he didn’t want the ball, we wouldn’t be here now. He would not need to learn the dangers of over-zealous and careless distribution which he must now face up to after rolling the ball to Benzema. Had Liverpool crashed out to Roma in the semi finals when Karius lost a long range shot as it travelled through the air, rebounding off his palm on to the bar, we would not be here now. He would not be learning the lesson he must learn as a result of letting in Bale’s second.
Karius still has things to learn from this in spite of the concussion. Football has things to learn from this because of the concussion.