A look at the future of Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita

A look at the future of Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita

When Liverpool signed Naby Keita from RB Leipzig for a transfer fee of €60 million back in the summer of 2018, we thought that the Reds had signed an absolute gem of a midfielder.

The Guinea international was putting in some very good performances for the Bundesliga club. Keita had scored 17 goals and registered 15 assists in 71 appearances for RB Leipzig.

Footage of the 26-year-old's time at RBL highlights that he was on another level to his teammates.

Ted Knutson, former Head of Player Analytics for Brentford and Midtjylland, described him as "rare" back in 2017.

“His skill set is extremely rare, and elite skill sets—especially for all-rounders—tend to command huge transfer fees in football,” Knutson told Goal.

“Given his age, production, and fit for that particular style of play, I could easily see a team setting the Bundesliga transfer record right now.

“If he plays regularly, that could certainly feel like good business a couple of years down the line.

“There are a lot of good midfielders out there, but none who is quite like Keita.”

But, Keita's time at Anfield has been up and down. The midfielder has shown glimpses of what he can do.

One only has look back at Keita's debut for the club. Liverpool came up against West Ham United at Anfield back in August 2018. The Reds won the aforementioned Premier League fixture 4-0.

Keita was superb for Liverpool on the day, which Reds boss Jurgen Klopp touched on post-match.

“A good performance, of course. Naby is in because he is a really good footballer and from the beginning he has settled really quick," said the 54-year-old, as quoted by Football365.

“Similar style of play, similar positions as he had at Leipzig. I’m pleased, absolutely, but that’s what we expect.”

Teammate Sadio Mane also praised Keita after the match.

The Senegal international told liverpoolfc.com the following: “I’m happy for him. He played very, very well. Everybody was happy about the job he did for us.

“The beginning is not easy for new players, to learn about the guys. He will do better and better for us because he has great quality.”

But, Keita has picked up a number of injuries since. The 26-year-old has not been able to stay on the pitch for long periods of time, which has impacted his performance levels.

With that being the case, Keita has only made 92 appearances for Liverpool's first-team in his four years at the club.

Despite everything that has happened, Klopp has made it clear that he still has faith in him.

As quoted by Tribuna, the German said the following back in May 2021: "The long-term future of Naby Keita, from my point of view, is here [Liverpool], yes."

However, it would be fair to assume that Klopp might run out of patience eventually.

Keita's contract does expire at the conclusion of the 2022-23 campaign. Therefore, it is time that the midfielder started to prove his worth.

Liverpool are not short of options in midfield (Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Curtis Jones, James Milner, Thiago Alcantara etc).

Otherwise, his future may lie elsewhere. We do hope that Keita can string a few performances together relatively soon.

The Guinea international is clearly talented and he is only 26-years of age, which highlights that his career is far from finished.

With that being the case, we do hope that he can turn things around. We never want to see any Red not fulfill their potential.

Only time will tell where Keita's long-term future lies.

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