Exclusive: Graeme Bailey provides an update on Naby Keita's Liverpool future

Exclusive: Graeme Bailey provides an update on Naby Keita's Liverpool future

Graeme Bailey has provided an update on Naby Keita's current contract situation at Liverpool.

So let me be honest, I was never a huge fan of Naby Keita, he was good but was always a disappointment to me.

But then something changed for me earlier this year – I saw him dominate a game for Liverpool, he ran the show from the middle of the park like I had never seen him do before – he was sublime, it was a performance that not every midfielder in the Premier League is capable of, safe to say I was won over.

Now, add into the mixture – this was at St James’ Park against Newcastle…once a relatively easy trip in the Premier League, not this time. This was against Eddie Howe’s Newcastle featuring one of the Premier League’s top performers in Bruno Guimaraes – indeed, this was actually the last time The Magpies tasted defeat at home, as Keita scored the only goal of the game. 

This was not a one-off, Keita was in the midst of an excellent run of form, indeed he was playing so well – he looked well on course to start the Champions League…then he didn’t and sources have told me that was an issue that has arguably been a route cause to issues around his future.

During the summer, noises emerged from Keita’s camp that they were not happy with how the talks were going. They had just seen Sadio Mane force a move to Bayern Munich, and that was seemingly appealing to them.

Like with Mane, contract talks had stalled and whilst Keita and his representatives were still engaged in conversations – lines of communications with ‘intermediaries’ and other clubs were also buzzing. And that is little surprise given that Keita could sign a pre-contract in January to leave the club on a free transfer.

But how concerned should Liverpool be? Keita arrived as one of the biggest signings in Liverpool history – over £50m was paid to RB Leipzig, but Reds fans had to wait nearly 12 months for his arrival and there is no denying that due to injuries and form – there was no immediate impact from Keita.

However, now at 27 and maturing – Keita showed last season just what he is capable of, but again injuries have so far beset him again, and tied in with murmurings of his unhappiness – things are not all rosy between player and club.

Liverpool are still talking about keeping Keita, but as I stated earlier the interest from clubs around Europe is substantial. And some of the interest is emanating from the Premier League. Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham are amongst those keeping tabs.

Some people have questioned that interest – but you have to look at what Keita brings, Premier League quality and that on a free transfer is so tempting. Nobody for one minute is suggesting that Keita would be signed by Chelsea for instance as their main midfield signing, same with Arsenal and Spurs – but he would come in to battle for a first-team place, and provide real in-depth quality – something he is more than capable of doing.

Just how much do Liverpool believe in Keita? That is now the question here. Can they afford to let him go? I would argue not. Indeed when you look at James Milner, Thiago dare I say even Jordan Henderson – going forward who Liverpool should be keeping, Keita is certainly not at the bottom of that list in my opinion.Keita’s situation is one we will all be keeping a close eye on from now, we will soon know whether he does have a long-term future at Anfield – I for one hope that he does extend his stay on Merseyside.

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