If even a few months ago you’d mentioned offering Pedro Chirivella a new contract at Liverpool, the idea would have been ludicrous.
Despite being apart of the furniture at Anfield for years, until this season, the Spaniard hadn’t made a first-team appearance for the Reds since May 2016 and a departure upon his contract expiry seemed inevitable.
Short-term loan spells in the Netherlands with Go Ahead Eagles and Willem II reflected his bleak future at the club, while he was on the verge of a transfer to Norway with Rosenborg for a decent fee of £4m back in the summer.
However, when a move collapsed, we were back to square one: Chirivella treading water with the academy squad at Liverpool until his deal eventually ran out.
He featured in the early stages of the Carabao Cup this campaign, seemingly to just appease him with playing time, but captaining a very inexperienced Reds side while the rest of the senior squad jetted off to Qatar for the Club World Cup was a damning indictment of Chirivella’s predicament.
He wasn’t viewed as a senior figure, instead being on the periphery of the first-team while acting as a mentor figure of sorts for the academy starlets.
So when Chirivella was named in the starting line-up for the FA Cup clash against Everton earlier this month, it seemed for many to sum up Klopp’s sentiments about the fixture.
The 22-year-old’s inclusion was met with laughter, even from our own supporters; the FA Cup was so low on the manager’s list of priorities that he was even willing to give Chirivella a final swansong at Anfield.
However, by the time the game was up, the midfielder had made every single doubter eat their words.
Alongside Adam Lallana at the base of midfield, Chirivella was absolutely superb; he worked hard defensively, pressed intensively, played some beautiful balls through and looked to have all the technical attributes required at this level.
Klopp was keen to single out the Spaniard for praise and rumours of a new contract started to surface, but should the club be so hasty to offer Chirivella a new deal?
The Merseyside Derby did seem to suggest that Chirivella could be an effective squad player, and amongst some of the regular team members, he’d have the chance to look even better.
Even in the frustrating 2-2 draw with Shrewsbury Town on the weekend, Chirivella was one of the few redeeming points to the game; his assist for Curtis Jones for the opener was so delicate and precise it was almost Xabi Alonso-esque.
He was able to dictate play from deep and put tackles in, meaning he could genuinely offer something different to this Liverpool side and could be a more than adequate alternative to Fabinho and Jordan Henderson at the base of midfield.
In his few appearances so far this season, Chirivella has been consistently solid and never let us down. Yet, this begs the question: why has it only taken until now for him to make something of an impact?
In spite of his top performances recently, the simple fact is this: Chirivella still can’t make a matchday Premier League squad.
With competition from Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum and potentially Marko Grujic next season, Chirivella would really struggle to make a dent consistently at Anfield should he stick around.
His physicality is also an issue. While he would likely thrive in a technical league such as La Liga or Serie A, his lightweight nature may not be best suited, especially if he was to play week in, week out.
While there are obvious benefits to him signing a new deal such as being able to utilise him in cup games and recouping a decent fee, would it be a sensible idea for Chirivella to spend the next few years of his career featuring in domestic cup games?
For the sake of his career, it’s best Chirivella move on. A return to his homeland or even a mooted move to a Championship side would serve him well; regular game time and the opportunity to cement a decent career for himself.
While a new contract wouldn’t go amiss merely for the sake of receiving a fee for him, at least he can leave Anfield with a great reputation and fond memories.
Imagine saying that a few months prior.