Pep Lijnders has named one Liverpool player who he’s glad to have seen staying at Anfield despite a plethora of exit links during the summer transfer window.
Mo Salah might seem the obvious name who springs to mind after the Reds refused to entertain a £150m offer from Saudi Arabia (The Guardian), but in this instance Jurgen Klopp’s assistant was talking about Caoimhin Kelleher.
There were numerous clubs linked with the Republic of Ireland goalkeeper over the summer (Irish Independent), with his international boss Stephen Kenny publicly urging him to move on from Merseyside (BBC Sport), but the 24-year-old remains at LFC.
He’s set to feature in Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup clash against Leicester, ahead of which Lijnders gave him some lofty praise.
The Liverpool assistant manager said in this afternoon’s pre-match press conference (via Liverpool Echo): “Kelleher has a long-term contract. He can play in any team in Premier League, a world-class goalkeeper and we give compliment for Alisson’s role.
“Kelleher needs game time. It’s good he stayed with us and Jurgen gave him perspective.”
Few would’ve begrudged Kelleher a move away from Liverpool if he had left in the summer, considering that the constant brilliance of Alisson is depriving an outstanding goalkeeper from getting the regular game-time that he deserves.
The Irishman has never left the Reds down when called upon, frequently proving a hero in penalty shootouts and helping us to Carabao Cup glory two seasons ago, while also playing for some of the triumphant FA Cup run.
His patient wait for an appearance this term ended when he was selected for the Europa League clash against LASK, and there was little he could do to keep out Florian Flecker’s early piledriver.
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Kelleher will likely be dependent once again on the cup competitions for game-time at Liverpool in 2023/24, but as we saw during the title-winning season, Alisson may sometimes need to be replaced if he’s unavailable.
That’s why the Reds were so keen to hold onto the Cork native, who would indeed be more than good enough to be a first-choice at almost any Premier League club but is thankfully still part of Klopp’s squad.
Losing Alisson at any moment would obviously be a hammer blow for LFC, but it’d be softened considerably by having the excellent 24-year-old ready to step in and come good again.