Naby Keita starting against Barcelona would suggest that Jurgen Klopp believes that the Guinean’s defensive contributions are up to scratch.

The former RB Leipzig midfielder has not been as defensively strong as some thought he would be.

Against West Ham, he fell asleep at a set piece and allowed Michail Antonio to ghost in behind and score what could turn out to be a costly equaliser in the landscape of the Premier League title race.

Of course, the fate of the title race is not something that can be solely attributed to his defensive lapse and he has shown recently that he can be strong in defensive areas.

Naby Keita.

Photo by William Early/Getty Images

Against Huddersfield, Steve Mounie had managed to slip in behind the Reds’ backline but in his moment of hesitation, Keita stole the ball away.

Liverpool looked destined to concede but the 24-year-old rescued his side and showed that he is not hopeless as far as defence is concerned.

 

That said, this came against a Huddersfield that is already relegated on 14 points and has only scored 20 goals all season.

Naby Keita

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

In Barcelona, Keita would come up against the best player on the planet and the man most adept at duping opposing players into make rash tackles in Lionel Messi.

Klopp could choose to start the player that he convinced to join Liverpool instead of Barca but in favour of a more balanced approach, James Milner could be selected to start.

With it key that Liverpool get an away goal, I would be partial to seeing Keita given a start as he has is so good at pressing and counter-pressing.

Naby Keita.

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

As his goal against Huddersfield will show you, Keita’s pressing is an integral part of his game and he even started pressing before Jon Stanković had received the ball.

With Barcelona’s passing game, pressing and harrying them will be crucial to securing a win.

That’s why Keita has to start.

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