Although the transfer obsessed moaners on Twitter would be loathe to admit it, Liverpool have quietly acquired a wealth of fantastic young talent, either through their academy or through smart transfers.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is the standout, of course, in with a shout of being the best right back in the world at just 23. Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott both look well on their way to becoming the next generation of top English (or Scouse) midfielders. Tyler Morton has impressed, and Kaide Gordon is incredibly exciting.
And yet, the academy player—Alexander-Arnold aside—who has the biggest vote of confidence ahead of a final? Goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher. A different manager might be tempted to play Liverpool’s number 1 in the club’s first final since lifting the European Cup in Madrid. However, Jurgen Klopp is putting his full faith behind the goalkeeper who got them there.
“Caoimhin will play, if he is fit,” Klopp said in the pre-match press conference. “As a football manager you have to consider obviously a lot of things. We consider Caoimhin as an outstanding goalie - not a good goalie, an outstanding goalie - and we want to keep him here.
“To keep him here you need to make sure of a few things; different games he will get, before a season you think about it, you talk about it and it’s all about performing of course. If he wouldn’t have performed on the level he performed when he played I would maybe see it differently, but he shows that he deserves all the trust and faith we have in him. That’s the situation.
“My idea in this moment is that Caoimhin will play. Let’s see until then but I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t do it, to be honest, because Caoimhin deserves it. He brought the team there.
“So we have now the best in the world and a really, really good one. That’s a good situation.”
It’s a good situation indeed.
Kelleher pulled off some fantastic saves en route to the final, including a couple in the semifinal against Arsenal, and in the quarterfinal penalty shootout against Leicester.
On one hand, it’s a lot of pressure to put on a young keeper, but on the other, he fully deserves the start. Hopefully Kelleher’s heroics continue, and he’ll be one of the ones lifting a trophy in Wembley at the end of February.