Liverpool star at crossroads and urged to leave Anfield with one major ‘problem’ cited

Caoimhin Kelleher Rep of Ireland June 2022

Robbie Keane believes Liverpool back-up goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher is at a crossroads in his Anfield career and may have no other choice but to leave the club this season.

The 23-year-old shot-stopper has endured a frustrating start to the season after picking up a groin problem on the first day of pre-season training. That has left the player kicking his heels on the sidelines and he was left out of the recent Republic of Ireland squad.

Kelleher has returned to training at Kirkby and is expected to be fit very soon, but his first-team chances remain few and far between.

The Cork-born keeper has asserted himself as Jurgen Klopp’s No.2 ahead of Adrian, but his game time remains thin on the ground. He only featured a total of eight times for the Reds in all competitions last season. And only two of those appearances were in the Premier League.

One of those included an impressive final-day appearance away at Chelsea last season. While he also impressed in the final of the Carabao Cup as the Reds got the better of Chelsea in penalty shootout at Wembley.

The problem that Kelleher has is that he has one of the world’s best in Alisson ahead of him. The Brazilian has proved himself to be one of Klopp’s shrewdest signings and at 29 he has plenty of years left at the club.

In fact only last year the former Roma star signed a new long-term contract which will keep him at Liverpool until the summer of 2027.

Kelleher himself only signed a long-term deal months before Alisson put pen to paper. And he declared he would be happy to stay at the club for the rest of his career, but the lack of games has become an issue.

Klopp has labelled him “the best no.2 in the world” following his Carabao Cup heroics last season, but Kelleher knows now is the time for him to play matches.

“I’m not sure on what’s happening yet,” said Kelleher recently.

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

And former Liverpool striker Keane thinks Kelleher has no choice but to move on.

Time is right for Kelleher to leave

“How long do you hold fire for? That’s his problem,” Keane told the Liverpool Echo. “Is he good enough to play No.1 for a Premier League team?

“I definitely think he is from what I’ve seen of him. He looks calm, authoritative and he’s very good with his feet. The problem is you’ve got one of the best goalkeepers in the world in front of you – so what do you do?

“Only he can answer that. There will definitely come a stage in his career, maybe in a few months or in a year, where he will want to go and play regular football.

“He’s going to have a problem because he has the best keeper in the world in front of him. He has to make a decision himself on whether to stay or go.

“I would encourage any player to try and play as many games as you can. He is 23, a good age for a goalkeeper, but only he can answer whether he is happy or wants to leave.”

Keane himself faced a similar situation at Anfield under Rafa Benitez, albeit at a different stage in his career. The former Republic of Ireland striker arrived at Liverpool in July 2008 on a four-year deal.

Keane: ‘I wanted to go and play’

But just seven months later Keane returned to Spurs after becoming frustrated with his lack of game time.

“I was at a different stage in my career,” said Keane. “He is playing for one of the best teams in the world as a second goalkeeper and is starting to win trophies.

“It was quite easy for me because I wasn’t playing. I didn’t want to leave but when I got left out of one of the squads, that was a killer because I’d never been left out of a squad before.

“You’d be on the bench now and again. That’s normal for any player, but being left out of the squad altogether is quite difficult to take. No disrespect to the other players that were ahead of me. But I think I definitely deserved to either be playing or on the bench.

“All I ever wanted to do was play football. So if I’m not playing as much as I would like to I want to go and play.

“I don’t wake up on a Saturday morning and look forward to sitting on the bench. In the last five weeks of my time at the club, I started scoring a lot of goals but a manager can have different ideas and different players in a different system. I don’t have a problem with that.”

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