Other than losing some important figures to long injury lay-offs, some of Liverpool’s first-team squad members who have been fit have not impressed. One such player who has disappointed is Naby Keita.
Liverpool’s defence of the Premier League title they worked so hard to claim has been completely derailed by an unexpected crisis. Their backline has been ravaged by injury, with first-choice pairing Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez not expected to reappear until next season.
The Reds have been forced to play Fabinho and Jordan Henderson in defence, which has highlighted a surprising lack of strength in depth in the centre of the park. Despite their recent return to the midfield, this could still present a huge chance for Naby Keita.
In an ideal world, Jurgen Klopp would have Fabinho, Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum, James Milner, Curtis Jones, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Thiago and Keita to choose from.
Injuries and subtle positional differences have reduced Keita’s direct competition to Oxlade-Chamberlain, Milner and Thiago. Now is the time for him to finally prove himself as a Liverpool player.
Naby Keita has arrived 🚀pic.twitter.com/Vzs1DbzeGA
— Goal (@goal) July 24, 2020
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Why did Liverpool sign him?
Keita was signed for £54 million and arrived at Anfield in 2018 with the expectation that he would give Klopp’s favoured midfield three a different dimension.
He managed 17 goals and 15 assists in his time at RB Leipzig and was known for his power and precision going forward.
Since joining Liverpool he’s shown flashes of brilliance but has never successfully maintained a run of form to challenge Liverpool’s more established midfielders.
Keita has all the tools to become a strong Premier League player – very few of his team-mates were signed with the same level of fanfare and intrigue.
“If you want to go to the semi-finals of the Champions League you have to earn the right to do so.”
“The one goal in the second half was absolutely ok, and it gives us a lifeline.”
Jürgen Klopp reflects on a disspointing night in Madrid…
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 6, 2021
More is expected of him than Milner or Oxlade-Chamberlain and he needs to start delivering soon as his time is running out.
The Guinean was a shock inclusion in Liverpool’s starting line-up to face Real Madrid in the Champions League Quarter Final on Tuesday but didn’t make it to half time.
After the first leg was over Klopp confirmed to BT Sport after the game that the substitution was tactical rather than injury-related.
Liverpool are losing patience with Keita, but the longer their injury crisis goes on, the more they’ll need him. It’s time for him to step up and start showing what he can do.