3 takeaways from Liverpool's shock Europa League exit

  • Liverpool fell to Atalanta in the Europa League quarter-final
  • 1-0 win in the second leg not enough to overturn a 3-0 deficit from the first meeting
  • Jurgen Klopp's farewell now focused on the Premier League
Liverpool are out the Europa League
Liverpool are out the Europa League / Marco Luzzani/GettyImages

Liverpool's hopes of a perfect send-off for manager Jurgen Klopp took another blow on Thursday as they crashed out of the Europa League.

A shocking 3-0 defeat at home to Atalanta in the first leg meant a 1-0 triumph in the return fixture was nowhere near enough for Liverpool, whose miserable April continues with a victory that still feels like a defeat.

Here are three things to learn from the game.

Injuries & fatigue start to take their toll

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ederson
Alexander-Arnold admitted he was struggling / Marco Luzzani/GettyImages

Were Liverpool actually bad against Atalanta? No, not really, but there's clearly something wrong with the squad, and that's likely down to fatigue.

Sloppy decisions in the final third and a lack of cutting edge both pointed to a team who were out on their feet. Right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, who only recently came back from injury, has admitted he simply ran out of energy as the clock ticked on.

Klopp can hardly be blamed for a lack of rotation. Liverpool have been plagued by injuries to a number of top players in recent months and, while Klopp definitely could have played more fringe players in 2024, doing so would have sabotaged the Reds' run at Premier League glory. It was a risk he had to take, and unfortunately, it didn't pay off.

What's the Salah backup plan?

Mohamed Salah
Liverpool could be too reliant on Salah / Jonathan Moscrop/GettyImages

One of those who suffered from fatigue on Thursday was Mohamed Salah, whose first-half penalty wasn't enough to seal another dramatic comeback.

When Salah isn't cooking, questions have to be asked over where the goals are going to come from in this Liverpool squad. Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota and Darwin Nunez can all put the ball in the back of the net, but none have the ruthless scoring drive that has led Salah to the top of the football mountain during Klopp's tenure.

Salah is turning 32 this summer and is a top target for the Saudi Pro League, so it's clear that his time at Anfield is going to come to an end at somepoint in the relatively near future. Figuring out how to replace him is the next key decision to be made.

Kelleher's future laid bare

Caoimhin Kelleher
Kelleher was glued to the bench / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

With goalkeeper Alisson one of those to spend significant time on the treatment table, Caoimhin Kelleher was drafted in as his replacement. The Irishman is a popular figure at Anfield, but his absence from the starting lineup on Thursday proved he needs to take his talents elsewhere.

Alisson was immediately thrown back into the starting lineup for the 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace at the weekend and Klopp then declined to re-introduce Kelleher, his usual cup goalkeeper, for the Atalanta game, sending a firm reminder to the 25-year-old that he will never be first-choice for the position while the Brazilian is still around.

It's hard to argue that Klopp did anything wrong here - Alisson is objectively one of the best goalkeepers on the planet - but Kelleher must now be selfish and think about his own career. He's a reliable goalkeeper at this level, and he needs to find a new club this summer to prove it.