We’d suggest that before he was subbed off last night, Naby Keita was Liverpool’s best player against Everton in the Merseyside Derby.
The Guinean played with confidence, drove forward with the ball at his feet and looked utterly composed in possession.
Our tempo and control of the game actually diminished after his exit, with Jurgen Klopp telling the media post-match that Keita’s recent performances in training meant he had little option but to start the no.8 over Gini Wijnaldum.
“Naby looked absolutely good,” Klopp told the official website. “He looked good in training and it’s for sure the reason why he played today. That was the same, you have the opportunity, you have a real quality player on the bench and then you bring Gini Wijnaldum in that situation. It’s just you have to try, ‘How can you deal with the quality and how can you deal with the intensity of the game?’ We play in three days again. Today if I play 11 players the 95 minutes and they all have to go like they had to go today, then I have a real problem on Wednesday, that’s how it is. You cannot underestimate it after four weeks of pre-season and nine weeks break before.”
Klopp’s comments definitely hint at rotation until the end of the season, but we’d very much like to see Keita keep his spot for the Crystal Palace game on Wednesday evening.
He provides the midfield with a guile that the other players, however helpful they’ve been this term, do not possess.
We’d suggest Klopp’s first-choice three remains Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Gini – but Keita has the chance to push one of those out if he continues in his current vein of fitness and confidence.
That’s the key for Keita – remaining healthy while showcasing his talent and creativity instead of hiding it.
More of the same on Wednesday, please!