Statistically-speaking, Loris Karius was the best goalkeeper in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League season – and he was made in the Bundesliga.
bundesliga.com looks back on the seasons at Mainz which helped Loris Karius become one of the most talented German goalkeepers of his generation.
Karius had a major hand – literally – in Liverpool reaching the final with his saves seeing the Reds past the challenges of Porto, Manchester City and Roma. City may have walked away with the English Premier League title, Karius kept them at bay with one of six clean sheets in the competition – and that against a side who scored a total of 144 goals in the season.
Watch: Karius flies across his goal to make stunning save from Raffael
If at first you don't succeed...
It rekindled memories of his formative years, when he was the foundations upon which Mainz built some of their best Bundesliga season, including seventh and sixth-place finishes in 2014 and 2016, prior to Karius' move to Anfield. He kept an average of ten clean sheets per season for the 05ers – a total he maintained this year for The Reds, even though he played only 19 times in the Premier League.
Indeed, he had to fight for his place in the team of Jürgen Klopp – another of Mainz's greatest products – with opportunities few and far between until the turn of the year, when he went from being their Champions League first-choice to overall number one.
Comparisons have been drawn with Manchester United's highly-rated Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea, who also struggled to settle in England only to emerge as one of the league's and Europe's best shot-stoppers. Karius is on a similar path to stardom, at his second shot at English football.
Mainz via Manchester and Stuttgart
His first came when he left Stuttgart to join Manchester City as a 16-year-old. Reserve team football is all he managed for The Citizens before Mainz stepped in and gave him the opportunity to showcase his talents in the Bundesliga. There, he shone with an array of show-stopping saves and crucial interventions, initially under current Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel, who gave him his big break, and then under Martin Schmidt.
Indeed, Karius has Tuchel to thank for putting his faith in him back in 2013 when it was a toss-up between him and Christian Mathenia to step into the breach due to injuries to Heinz Müller and Christian Wetklo. From that day until Liverpool activated a release clause in his contract in 2016, Karius missed just one Bundesliga fixture.
During those three years, Karius developed into a commanding personality at the back, giving his defenders confidence and providing a presence which intimidated opponents and supported his colleagues alike. In his final season in the Bundesliga, he saved four out of seven penalties, stretching every sinew of his 6'2" frame to make save after save.
Those saves are now being applauded at Anfield, where Karius is entering his prime. "It's a dream and I'm living it with Liverpool," he told the Liverpool Echo. "It is nice to be part of this journey and I don't think it's finished yet. It is really exciting."
The next step on that journey could well have been Champions League glory, while a first call-up to the Germany national team could also be on the cards for the custodian, who has represented his country at every age level from U16 to U21.
Yet it should not be forgotten that Karius, like many of the world's stars, was made in the Bundesliga.