Caoimhin Kelleher’s rare window of opportunity – and what it could mean for Liverpool

With Alisson‘s injury enforcing a period on the sidelines, Caoimhin Kelleher has been thrust into the spotlight and now has the chance to seize a rare Liverpool opportunity.

Jurgen Klopp took everyone by surprise when, during a press conference held in the final weeks of last season, he insisted he could not foresee a summer departure for Kelleher.

The 2022/23 campaign had not panned out how any Liverpool player had quite hoped, but that was particularly true for their second-choice goalkeeper.

The 12 months prior had been spent scoring the winning penalty in a League Cup final and making eight appearances across all competitions, including in a successful FA Cup run.

But that figure was halved for the next campaign as Liverpool followed up a quadruple near-miss by disappointing on every front.

As such, the summer looked like a good time for Kelleher to finally move on from Merseyside in search of regular football.


Homegrown talent

DUBLIN, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND - Sunday, October 11, 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 Republic of Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium. The game ended in a 0-0 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

That view was publicly backed by then-Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny, who said in June: “He’s a very talented goalkeeper, and hopefully… it looks like he’ll be on the move this summer.

“[A move] will only benefit him, as he needs to play games because he has been starved of games this year, and that has been a problem for him.”

And it looked like Kenny might get his wish early in the window, when Brentford, Tottenham and Brighton were all credited with an interest.

Liverpool responded by assessing their options amid similar uncertainty over Adrian, making tentative contact with the representatives of Hannover’s Ron-Robert Zieler, among others.

However, the need for such a move quickly evaporated, with Adrian ultimately penning a new deal, while Brentford moved for Mark Flekken, Spurs signed Guglielmo Vicario, and Brighton swooped for Bart Verbruggen.

And, as Klopp has now revealed, Liverpool’s struggles with their homegrown quota also created a reluctance from their side to sanction a Kelleher departure.

The German explained: “We had discussions in the summer obviously about [moving on] but as long as we don’t have a solution we cannot loan players.

“He is homegrown and the first responsibility is to do the best for Liverpool, and then we have to see how we can sort it.”

In this context, Klopp’s unexpected confidence over retaining his back-up shot-stopper is suddenly more understandable.


Opportunity breeds opportunity

SINGAPORE - Sunday, July 30, 2023: Liverpool's goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher is substituted for goalkeeper Alisson Becker during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at the Singapore National Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This situation could, of course, have been difficult to take for a young goalkeeper who clearly will have to depart eventually if he is to fulfil his potential.

Yet this was also arguably not a bad season for him to stay put, with Liverpool’s involvement in the Europa League providing yet more opportunities to play more regularly.

Interestingly, Kelleher’s lack of experience was noted by Brentford’s technical director Lee Dykes ahead of their move for a more seasoned pro in Flekken.

And so the Irishman’s hope will be that this extra season at Anfield and a notable uptick in terms of game time will help allay similar fears among any other potential suitors.

The chances of that have certainly been boosted by this week’s news that Alisson is set for a brief stint on the sidelines, with Kelleher now in line for his longest ever run of starts (five) for the Liverpool first team.

Klopp “trusts him,” and the 25-year-old himself has explained that he has “always trained” for this moment and is “ready” to temporarily fill Alisson‘s sizeable gloves.

Should what is ultimately a high-pressure period for the 25-year-old go to plan, then it will certainly make it harder for Klopp to so confidently declare that he is staying put once the current season comes to a close.