The spotlight on the men between the sticks at Anfield has been focused largely on Pepe Reina and his will-they-or-won't-they flirtation with Barcelona, allowing third choice 'keeper Peter Gulacsi to slip away quietly and without fanfare as he moves on to Red Bull Salzburg.
Gulacsi first joined Liverpool on loan from MTK Budapest FC in 2007-2008 before making a permanent move to Merseyside the next season. The twenty-three year-old spent several seasons on loan at Hereford United, Tranmere Rovers, and Hull City but never made an appearance for the senior team in a competitive match, although he earned some precious minutes a few friendlies.
Few will begrudge the young keeper a move away from Anfield, as the closest he came to the first team was being named to the bench during Brad Jones' short reign during a Pepe Reina injury layoff earlier last season. With Jones' age and experience putting the Australian ahead of Gulacsi in the pecking order, it's unlikely the Hungarian's fate in Liverpool would have improved much had he extended his contract.
There has been much discussion about how Liverpool might replace Pepe Reina should he return to Spain, but Gulacsi's departure adds a new facet to the goalkeeping conundrum. A third string 'keeper may not be terribly high on the club's list of priorities, but it's not unheard of for Liverpool to require the services of the third choice player. After all, it was only a little over a year ago that third choice Brad Jones was forced into a match against Blackburn after Alexander Doni was sent off, two matches after Pepe Reina had been sent off against Newcastle. Memories!
Reina is the clear starter, but where a replacement keeper fits into the club in relation to Brad Jones is the question. Jones has been an acceptable deputy to Reina in the last year and he also possesses the key temperament for a back-up keeper, namely the ability to have worn a Jones-shaped impression on the Liverpool bench while maintaining a positive attitude about his secondary role with the club.
The 'keepers Liverpool have been linked with so far this window are already starters with their existing clubs and thus unlikely to be satisfied by falling two rungs down the ladder. Presumed to be replacements for Reina, it's possible now that any goalkeepers Liverpool are scouting were always meant to be back-ups, as Gulacsi leaving on a free transfer suggests the club have known all along they'd be in the market for a new bench warmer.
Whether this means the club purchases another youngster for third place or the replacement player slots in ahead of Jones before stepping up to the starting line-up in the event of a Reina departure is anyone's guess. Regardless, Gulacsi seems to be making the right choice for his career and we wish him well at Salzburg.