The League Cup Final on February 27th, 2022 went to a penalty shootout as Liverpool and Chelsea battled to a stalemate across 120 minutes of tense action. Every single outfield player made their penalty. Then, a young goalkeeper for Liverpool, Caoimhin Kelleher, stepped up to the line and buried a penalty of his own.
His counterpart on the day, Kepa, would send his penalty shot to the moon. As a result, Kelleher kept a 120 minute clean sheet and nailed the winning penalty in a Cup Final for one of the most recognized clubs in the world.
His reward for his heroics that night? The Irishman did not play another minute for the club in any competition the rest of the season.
It’s a tough job being the understudy to arguably the best Keeper in the world which Alisson rightly is considered. The Brazilian is remarkably consistent and stays very healthy. That makes it tough for anyone to force their way into more playing time.
Throw in the presence of the veteran Spaniard Adrian, and the Keeper room at Liverpool is full of quality.
However, now 24 years old, Kelleher is increasingly becoming an ideal transfer target for mid-table Premier League teams who can offer significantly more playing time.
Jurgen Klopp has been loud with his admiration for his Irish shot stopper. However, actions speak louder than words and the severe lack of appearances for the First Team will carry the biggest message of all.
Alisson is only 30 years old and is in the prime of his career. He has the No. 1 role locked down at Anfield for the foreseeable future.
Kelleher is almost universally accepted to be the best No. 2 in the League, which in of itself, is a strange compliment to make to a professional footballer. There is no doubt he has the abilities.
He’s shown his quality on big stages for the Reds. He will be extremely eager to show his worth on a week-to-week basis. If you don’t have that competitive edge, you are in the wrong line of work in this sport.
From a Liverpool perspective, you don’t want to lose him because he IS the best No. 2 in the League. At the same time, you can’t begrudge the man for potentially taking an opportunity elsewhere.
The club bringing back Adrian on a one year deal for this season is an interesting move. Perhaps they could send the Irishman out on loan for the consistent time he wants?
It’s hard to gauge the true value of Kelleher as again, he has been limited in his chances to shine so there is not much to go on outside of the Domestic Cups.
He has made 21 appearances for the Liverpool first team and kept 10 clean sheets in those matches. He does not possess the passing or distribution abilities of Ederson or Alisson. However, still quite young, these are definitely tools he can develop with more on-field action.
I would not want him to leave on a permanent basis but rather prefer he goes out on loan. Very long-term, he can be an eventual successor to the Brazilian. However, his market value might never be higher.
It’s a conundrum for the club, albeit it’s never a bad problem to have multiple top class keepers in the building.
What becomes of the Irishman will be fascinating to follow. He himself has been professional throughout his time with the Reds. If he stays or goes, he has already delivered silverware to the club.
There will only be goodwill for the young man’s future. Let’s see where it leads him.