Kelleher’s Final Act: Liverpool’s Next Move?
Final acts are tough for anyone, but in the high-stakes world of Premier League football, it should be the case for Caoimhin Kelleher. Liverpool’s number two goalkeeper is firmly entrenched behind the stalwart and legend that is Alisson Becker, and no one, including Jurgen Klopp, is looking for that to change. Any delve into the statistics, or just common knowledge amongst Reds, builds a narrative that unfolds of a talented goalkeeper biding his time, predominantly featuring in cup competitions and scarcely in league matches barring injuries. A narrative that perhaps logically suggests a departure from Anfield this summer might be the next wise step in his career.
Cup Campaigns: Kelleher’s Showcase
Kelleher’s contribution to Liverpool’s cup campaigns is noteworthy, and hopefully, he’ll help take us to Wembley. The 25-year-old has been a fixture in the EFL Cup, where his performances have been solid, including a decent couple of saves in the showing in the 2-1 victory over Bournemouth. His Europa League statistics are similarly robust, yet even with Liverpool notching convincing wins such as the 5-1 drubbing of Toulouse under his watch, there were still question marks around his performance. These cup competitions have provided Kelleher with a stage, yet it’s hard to see any shift or progression from what we believed this summer.
Premier League Challenges
In the Premier League, which proves the real hallmark or not of a top keeper, the stats tell a different story. Kelleher’s appearances are sparse, the minutes played column stark in its brevity. This season’s tally shows a mere two appearances and even those brought real concerns, with an error-strewn performance in the 4-3 victory over Fulham making many question just how long Alisson would be out for. There’s no shame in being behind the Brazilian whatsoever, nor should it be used as a pure marker of ability. Yet, the sentiment that the idea of Kelleher as a good back-up with great feet tends to be better than the reality has some real merit.
International Duties and Future Prospects
The international scene mirrors this limited exposure. Representing the Republic of Ireland, Kelleher has yet to cement his place as a regular, and often finds himself behind Gavin Bazunu, despite Ireland’s horrific qualifying campaign and Bazunu hardly impressing. Although with a change of international manager, it’s possible this could change. It just adds weight though to the overall points that many Reds feel around a keeper who seems a nice guy, popular with his peers, and able to be a number one elsewhere.
There’s a strong argument to be made for Kelleher seeking new pastures come summer. At 25, he is entering the prime years for a goalkeeper, and regular first-team football is the crucible where potential is forged into excellence. The balance between loyalty to a club like Liverpool and the pursuit of personal development is delicate. Jurgen Klopp made it clear they’d had discussions in the summer and whilst nothing will be sanctioned in January, you’d expect them again in six months. For Liverpool and many fans, the potential departure of Kelleher would be bittersweet. The talent is clear, but it’ll be time to step out from the shadows and into the limelight.