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Liverpool transfer hand will finally be forced but Michael Edwards trick can turn it around

Caoimhin Kelleher, Kostas Tsimikas, Diogo Jota and Curtis Jones of Liverpool during the UEFA Europa League 2023/24 quarter-final first leg training and press conference at AXA Training Centre on April 10, 2024 in Liverpool, England.
-Credit: (Image: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)


Michael Edwards will not be front-and-center in the day-to-day Liverpool recruitment operation this summer. He has returned as part of the FSG setup, and has appointed Richard Hughes as the club's sporting director.

However, a trick once favored by Edwards could be used by the club as it faces a tricky situation. The new-look team behind the scenes faces some immediate challenges, and may need to get creative to overcome them.

Incoming business might even be the easy part this summer. Within the existing squad, there are contract questions over Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk, and that's only the beginning of the dilemmas.

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It seems as though Liverpool may finally need to say goodbye to Caoimhin Kelleher. The Irish stopper has revealed to The Athletic that only an intervention from Jürgen Klopp kept him at Anfield last summer — and while that decision paid dividends, the taste he has now got for regular game time can likely only be fulfilled away from the club moving forward.

In one sense, Liverpool still holds the cards, with Kelleher under contract until 2026. But the window for the club to cash in is closing, and it would send the wrong message if he was not allowed to leave, having performed so admirably in the back-up role for so long.

Arriving in the first Edwards reign, not long before he was appointed sporting director, Kelleher will now make Liverpool a significant profit if he is indeed sold. It will be up to the club to extract maximum value.

Edwards used to be an expert at that, banking huge fees for fringe players, with Rhian Brewster the most extreme example. But it's another of his old strategies Liverpool may want to employ.

There's no getting around the fact that if Liverpool sells Kelleher, it will be losing a very good goalkeeper. On a per-90 basis, when it comes to saving more shots than expected when accounting for the quality of shot faced, he was the fourth-best in the entire Premier League this season among those playing at least 10 games (FBref).

That was actually significantly better than Alisson, who had one of his statistically poorer seasons. But the Brazilian is the elephant in the room when it comes to discussing Kelleher, because he still deserves his status as one of the very best in the world. As long as he is around and at a high level, Liverpool has a clear number one.

But it shouldn't just write off its association with Kelleher. Just as important as pumping up the fee, Liverpool must include a sell-on and ideally a buy-back clause in any deal.

Edwards would routinely tack on such add-ons when negotiating deals as sporting director. And while Liverpool never actually took up a buy-back option, there's a plausible route to that outcome with Kelleher.

There's no real reason to worry about Alisson's statistical dip this season. But if turns out to be a harbinger of steady decline, Liverpool could feasibly be in the market at some point, even if that is not for another three to four years.

Kelleher, who is currently just 25, would still be in and around the peak years for a goalkeeper at that stage And it's perfectly possible, from what he has shown at Anfield, that he could go on to cement himself as one of the very best in the league once he gets a move away to be first-choice somewhere else.

If Liverpool had inserted a clause that allowed it to get Kelleher back, by that point below his true market value, it would then go down as a masterstroke. It's an unlikely scenario, but one for which the Reds would be wise to account, seeking to squeeze the absolute maximum from the unfortunate situation of losing 'the world's best number two'.