Brendan Rodgers this summer will undoubtedly be working hard on preparing his Liverpool squad for the rigours of Champions League football, alongside the normal 38-game Premier League season. Usually, that would suggest that more young players will get a chance at some point in the Liverpool first-team next season, but where does that leave someone like Martin Kelly?
In May, Rodgers told Liverpoolfc.com that the youngster did have a place at Liverpool next season, but played down just how regular that place could be.
"Martin has been really unfortunate," said Rodgers. "He was out for a year, he came back this season and at the beginning of the season we put him into some games. But as the season wore on and we were concentrating on one game a week, it was very difficult for him to get games.
"He’s a quality player and he’s a good guy as well – he knows the club inside out. He’s been around for a long time and the game against Shamrock Rovers was his first game for months. He played at centre-half, as opposed to right-back, where he has played a lot. There will be games next year for the likes of him to come and play in if we continue to qualify in the competitions."
The last part: ‘there will be games next year for the likes of him to come and play in if we continue to qualify in the competitions’ is very telling as it almost implies that even at 24 the defender may have to settle for a bit-part role along with the younger players, such as Wisdom and McLaughlin. And, given his past, I don’t believe that a bit-part player in the Liverpool team will really do him or Liverpool any good.
Kelly is now at a critical part of his career and needs to be proving himself regularly week-in, week-out in competitive first-team games. The long-term injuries suffered by the talented defender makes that point even more important as he will need to quickly build on his 69 first-team appearances if he is to ever reach the potential he once had.
For Liverpool, although it is a case of losing a very talented defender in order to help his career progress, there is absolutely nothing stopping them from touting a similar buy-back clause to Carlos Vela when he left Arsenal to join Real Sociedad in 2012.
The Liverpool team is already stacked with young defenders who are desperate to get a chance at first-team life and with the strong possibility that more will be coming through the door at Anfield this summer then you could argue that Kelly’s exit is a must in order for him to get game-time in the future.