Loris Karius looks like a troubled man but still manages to scrub up well. He’s only 25 and doesn’t he like to show it. When the day job is falling apart, smouldering looks make a decent comfort blanket.
After the German’s latest mistake in a pre-season match against Borussia Dortmund in the United States, Real Madrid legend Iker Casillas stepped in to ask if the social media keyboard critics had anything better to do than pan the German. It seems not. Team-mate Mo Salah later tweeted: “Stay strong Karius, it has happened to the best of players. Ignore those who hate.” Nice sentiment, but difficult to implement.
Karius’s battles since May 26, the day the world changed for him as a footballer and human being, look like they have been almost too much to bear. After being at fault for two of Real Madrid’s goals in the 3-1 defeat in Kyiv, he had to dwell on the fact that his mistakes cost his club on the biggest stage. It wasn’t as if he had any forthcoming games to erase the pain. As a going-away present for the summer it sucked.
However, it’s hard to ignore that he brought a bit of it on himself. Didi Hamann noted that Karius drove around with a personalised LK number plate before that fateful night. He hardly sidesteps attention-seeking.
To get over his particular PTSD, the blond-haired, ripped-jean goalie created a filmic version of his rehabilitation in the Hollywood Hills. On Instagram. Running Rocky-like, eating ice creams and casually getting out of swimming pools to drive off into a wonderful sunset was an anodyne, if slightly nauseating, montage. Unfortunately, on Planet Earth, there are football matches to play.
Then there was the fleeting succour of a retrospective medical report from a Boston hospital that showed that Karius had 26 of the 30 markers for concussion during the Champions League final. This was an “explanation” not an “excuse” Jurgen Klopp said. It was something that must have filled Karius with a bit of hope to face the barrage of resistance to his return.
Clearly, though, his mistakes in pre-season friendlies, including one through the legs in a warm-up have shown a player whose mind is in another universe.
After Dortmund, he could take no more and rushed to his own defence on Instagram. “To those who take joy in seeing other people fail or suffer, I feel for you,” he wrote. “Whatever it is that’s happening in your life to hold this much anger and hate, I pray that it passes and good things come to you.”
The New York Times’ White House correspondent said this of social media: “Twitter is now an anger video game for many users. It is the only platform on which people feel free to say things they’d never say to someone’s face.”
In the world of Loris Karius, that’s pretty much what is happening now. Even his manager didn’t tell him that Alisson was coming. It’s a long way from a Hollywood ending.