It was less than an hour after the final whistle in Madrid that Simon Mignolet sent out a tweet to his 1.42m followers.

The Belgian had just watched his captain lift the European Cup into the night sky after a 2-0 victory over Tottenham when he took to his phone to congratulate Alisson Becker on another clean sheet.

"Another HUGE performance between the posts," Mignolet tweeted, before joining the Brazilian to celebrate alongside young goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher and coaches John Achterberg and Jack Robinson.

It was typical of Mignolet, who has showed his professionalism and class throughout the season, playing just twice as understudy to Alisson, who cost the Reds upwards of £65m when he arrived from Roma last summer.

 

In truth, Mignolet would have liked to have departed there and then, but Loris Karius' move to Besiktas saw the former Sunderland man told to stay put. He won't have been happy about that decision but you'd never know about it.

The big Belgian doesn't complain, it's just not his style. Not even when he had to watch Karius take his place in the Liverpool side last year before the Reds' dreams were dashed in Kiev.

Mignolet admitted as much earlier this season, telling the ECHO it was "easier to accept" playing second fiddle to a player of Alisson's quality.

So nobody could begrudge Mignolet when he hoisted the European Cup above his head in Madrid, he deserved it as much as anyone.

The 31-year-old hadn't made a single appearance in the Champions League but the victory was for the work put in outside the public gaze, as well as the six years he's spent at Anfield.

Simon Mignolet of Liverpool lifting the Champions League trophy
Simon Mignolet of Liverpool lifting the Champions League trophy

It may be bittersweet, but Mignolet finally got his hands on some silverware at Liverpool and the images of him holding the trophy could be his last in a Reds jersey.

Because Mignolet is sure to depart Anfield this summer.

And when he does, he'll leave a huge hole in Jurgen Klopp's squad and hand his manager a tricky problem in the transfer market.

Don't believe us? Just ask Klopp, who praised Mignolet on a number of occasions this season. Just ask Alisson, who knows Mignolet allowed him to raise his game to new heights this campaign.

And just ask James Milner, who singled out Mignolet for special praise this year, telling the ECHO that his team-mate "has the best attitude I’ve ever seen in my life".

That aside, there aren't many clubs who can boast a second goalkeeper as accomplished as Mignolet.

 

A veteran of 245 Premier League games, he would walk into most sides in the league.

Liverpool's rivals Manchester City do have Claudio Bravo, but injury problems meant they used untested Kosovan Arijanet Muric as their second choice goalkeeper last season. Chelsea had a 39-year-old Rob Green, Tottenham Michel Vorm and Manchester United's alternative, Sergio Romero, has played a total of seven Premier League games in four years with the club.

Arsenal had both Petr Cech and Bernd Leno, but neither man really impressed enough throughout the campaign.

So where do Liverpool look in trying to find the right replacement for Mignolet?

 

It says a lot that the Reds are already being linked with Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, an experienced player but one who lacks the ability of the current Liverpool understudy.

Indeed, that's the sort of player that Liverpool will inevitably have to look at if they are to go for a veteran option who is happy to be Alisson's alternative.

The other option is to try to buy a young, up-and-coming goalkeeper, a route Gerard Houllier once tried when he brought in Jerzy Dudek and Chris Kirkland on the same day. That experiment ended with neither man really developing the way the Reds would have liked.

It's a difficult dilemma for Klopp and Liverpool, and what's certain is that they'll do well to find somebody with the same class as Mignolet - both on and off the pitch.

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