We were a little surprised yesterday to read a story in the Mirror suggesting Naby Keita could be one of the first-team Liverpool stars offloaded in the summer…
They wrote that his constant injuries and the fact he isn’t an automatic starter after nearly two seasons in red prove he may be up for sale.
But we’re not having it. Keita, in short, is a sensational footballer who simply needs a prolonged run of fitness.
The niggling injuries have been extremely frustrating for the fans and the management, but far more so for our mercurial no.8.
This season, he didn’t get a full summer of preparation because he played the 2019 AFCON when injured with Guinea – and he’s constantly been playing catch-up with both himself and the rest of the midfielders he’s competing for minutes with.
Around Christmas, when his health and form peaked, he was performing at an incredibly high level – with standout performances away to Bournemouth and Leicester notable.
In terms of attributes, he’s got it all. He can thread passes through to attackers in a manner none of our other midfielders can – and can also beat a midfielder from a standstill position thanks to his technical skills. He’s feisty and can win a ball back – and knows when to speed a game up or slow it down.
We love Keita at his best, and feel his biggest weakness – confidence to try stuff – is something that will continue to improve as he masters the language (something he admittedly should have tried harder with) and achieves successes with this brilliant group of players of which he is one.
What’s more, he cost a lot of money and if we offloaded him now, would probably lose out financially – something Michael Edwards is not accustomed to!