It speaks to the quality of Caoimhin Kelleher that, at some point, Liverpool’s back-up goalkeeper is going to have a difficult decision to make.
Despite having just 17 outings in senior club football to his name, the Irishman has already shown himself to have a huge future in the game.
But it is also widely accepted that he will not fulfil that huge promise by sitting on the bench waiting for rare opportunities to deputise for Alisson Becker.
This line of thinking was behind a question posed to the 23-year-old ahead of his recent end-of-season international appearances for the Republic of Ireland.
Asked whether he had any intention of seeking more regular first-team football, he coolly replied: “I need to play these few games and see what happens with these and maybe decide after that.
“I’m not sure what’s happening yet.”
In truth, this was not the sort of answer Liverpool fans might have hoped for, lacking as it did in cast-iron guarantees.
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And that has unsurprisingly sparked fears of a potential departure for a player who proved key to the collection of two trophies last term.
Kelleher’s penalty-taking heroics in the League Cup final shootout win over Chelsea have been pored over enough times in recent months.
But that unforgettable day served to obscure some impressive performances en route to Wembley, as well as two early appearances in the run to FA Cup glory.
The Cork-born ‘keeper had plenty of opportunities to show off his shot-stopping skills in those outings, coming as they did in front of the much-rotated teams reserved for the domestic cups.
But it was his calmness in possession that most stood out, given that is the key reason why he has proven such an able deputy to Alisson Becker between the sticks.
This quality would be missed more than any other were Kelleher to move on, leaving Adrián San Miguel to step up as number two.
Fortunately for those concerned by his non-committal press conference response earlier this month, a departure is not on the cards any time soon.
Their stance may have softened had Ireland qualified for this winter’s World Cup, but Liverpool now have no intention of sanctioning a move for Kelleher in this window.
The tough decision to keep the youngster in goal for last season’s League Cup final was made with this situation in mind — Jürgen Klopp acknowledging that he would need to provide a sweetener if another season as a number two awaited.
Thankfully, by sticking to his word, the German has ensured his promises of similar involvement in the coming campaign will be accepted.
Admittedly, this compromise kicks the can down the road somewhat, not least because Kelleher’s main rival for the Ireland number one jersey, Gavin Bazunu, has just secured a move from Manchester City to Southampton that will see him play regularly.
But, with Euro 2024 still some way off, Klopp has been able postpone a tricky conversation with his back-up goalkeeper for another 12 months at least.
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