LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 27, 2022: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson (L) and goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher celebrate with the trophy after winning the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. Liverpool won 11-10 on penalties after a goal-less draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

How £10m Man City transfer could force Caoimhin Kelleher into difficult decision

With Caoimhin Kelleher admitting he is “not sure” on his future prospects ahead of the summer transfer window, a deal involving Man City could force his hand.

Speaking during his duty with the Republic of Ireland, Kelleher was asked about his future having established himself as backup to Alisson at Liverpool.

“I’m not sure on what’s happening yet,” the goalkeeper told reporters on Monday, as reported by BBC Sport.

“I’m still finishing this season and then we will have conversations after that to see what happens.

“I’m not sure yet – obviously I need to play these few games and see what happens with these and maybe decide after that.”

Kelleher is expected to start his third consecutive game of the month on Saturday evening, as Ireland host Scotland in the UEFA Nations League, benefiting from an injury to Man City goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu.

CARDIFF, WALES - Sunday, November 15, 2020: Republic of Ireland's goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher during the pre-match warm-up before the UEFA Nations League Group Stage League B Group 4 match between Wales and Republic of Ireland at the Cardiff City Stadium. Wales won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Bazunu has often been preferred as No. 1 by manager Stephen Kenny, with a consistency of minutes throughout the campaign – albeit on loan with League One side Portsmouth – giving the 20-year-old an advantage.

His performances while at Portsmouth have alerted another south-coast club, with Southampton close to sealing a £10 million with Man City, according to The Athletic.

This could put Bazunu in an even better position when it comes to the starting spot for his country, putting further pressure on Kelleher at Liverpool.

Back in March, Jurgen Klopp accepted that there may come a time when a player of Kelleher’s ability and potential may need to leave Anfield to take up a first-choice role elsewhere – albeit on loan.

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 16, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (L) embraces goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher after the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. Liverpool won 5-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Maybe there’s a time where he has to go on loan. I’m not sure if that will be next year or maybe a year later,” the manager said.

“Marcelo [Pitaluga] is already on a good way, really we have to judge that situation, Adrian is still here and doing an incredible job.

“We will see, but you need the quality we have here, and if we get weaker if he wants to go somewhere, then we don’t have the chance to do that.

“If we can keep the quality, then we could talk, but that’s difficult.”

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 4, 2021: Liverpool's goalkeeper Marcelo Pitaluga during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ahead of those “conversations” between Kelleher and Liverpool, then, much for the latter may rest on whether Klopp and goalkeeping coach John Achterberg feel 19-year-old Brazilian stopper Marcelo Pitaluga is ready to step up.

That seems unlikely at this stage, as does a campaign with Adrian back as No. 2, which presents the option of potentially selling Kelleher and bringing in another goalkeeper this summer.

It is all hypothetical for now, but Bazunu’s imminent move to St Mary’s will only heighten the unease over Kelleher’s standing for club and country.