Stories about the goalkeeper, on loan at Besiktas from Liverpool, being dropped or sent back to England are simply not true so why are they being written?
Loris Karius has conceded 15 goals in his first 10 games for Besiktas. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Nearly six months on from the Champions League final and Loris Karius has been making the headlines again for all the wrong reasons.
There have been almost weekly reports claiming Besiktas will drop the goalkeeper. A few days ago there was a bizarre rumour that the club wanted to end his two-year loan deal in January and replace him with the Liverpool forward Divock Origi. At one point there was also a media-led uproar about him allegedly messaging women on Instagram. The list goes on and on.
There appears to be an almost sadistic enjoyment in trying to make Karius suffer following the Champions League final, in which he made two high-profile mistakes as Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1. The negative reports from the Turkish press have been picked up by some British media outlets, painting an unfair representation of Karius’s first few months in Istanbul.
Contrary to popular belief the Besiktas management are happy with Karius and are bewildered by claims they want to get rid of him. The general feeling at the club is that Karius has settled in well to life in the city. He did not have a pre-season with the team but has adapted quickly.
The German has gone out of his way to make an effort with the fans. He has not locked himself away on the outskirts of the city as high-profile players who arrive in Istanbul often do. He can often be found frequenting cafes around the Besiktas area mingling with supporters and taking photos with them.
The Besiktas head coach, Senol Gunes, was a goalkeeper in his playing days – and a very good one as well – and knows a thing or two about what qualities he wants his No 1 to have. Gunes has kept faith in Karius, starting him in all 10 games since he joined from Liverpool in August and is showing no signs of dropping the 25-year-old.
There have been a few shaky moments. Karius has looked suspect dealing with crosses and aerial balls at times. And then there was that goal he conceded against Malmö. A cross from the right took a wicked deflection off Caner Erkin resulting in an own goal. Could Karius have positioned himself better? Perhaps. But it was one of those goals that most other keepers would not be blamed for. And certainly not mocked for for days on end on social and in the mainstream media.Loris Karius during his presentation after joining Besiktas on a two-year loan from Liverpool in August. Photograph: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images
Karius has conceded 15 goals in 10 starts for the Black-Whites but raw statistics can be misleading. Karius has been playing behind a back four that has been struggling for consistency since Pepe picked up an injury. Besiktas have conceded seven goals in three games without the former Real Madrid centre-back, while luck has not been on their side this season: there have already been three own goals.
It is also worth highlighting that Karius has made important saves to rescue his side. Besiktas are fourth in the league, only three points behind the leaders, Basaksehir, whom they play on Sunday.
So why is Karius getting such a bad press? There are multiple factors at play. The second-choice goalkeeper Tolga Zengin is a former Turkish international keeper and there are some who believe he should be starting. Then there are football politics, with certain reporters and newspapers sympathetic to the club or club officials they support.
Arguably the main reason – and most depressing reason – is that news about the Liverpool loanee sells. Turkish papers have caught on to the fact that stories criticising Karius tend to get picked up and shared in the UK. There seems to be some schadenfreude at work but the bottom line is these rumours have popular appeal.
Take a look at the stories of him supposedly being dropped and Besiktas wanting to cut his loan short. These are simply being translated from Turkish to English without any fact checking. Thankfully not all of the Turkish media are doing this. There are balanced reports and stories with a positive spin too. However, the unfavourable stories are the ones that have been picked up outside of Turkey. The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email.
The Karius-Origi swap rumour was quite obviously far-fetched if not farcical. However, it ended up causing such a stir that Karius’s agent, Florian Goll, was forced to deny the rumour. “Complete nonsense,” he told SID. “I wonder where such things come from. This news is absolutely untrue. Loris is on loan to Besiktas for two years – that’s the situation. The club has no intention of ending this loan contract prematurely.”
Karius, meanwhile, seems to be relaxed about the stories and wrote on Instagram one morning this week in a since-deleted post: “Coffee first, media’s bull**** second.”
It is best to ignore the bad media coverage Karius has been getting. He has not played badly but it seems that no one is interested in reading about the goalkeeper doing quite well.