Liverpool don’t need to sign Philippe Coutinho this summer due to the fact that they have Naby Keita, Dean Saunders told TalkSPORT.
The Guinean joined the Anfield outfit from RB Leipzig last summer for a fee reported to be around £48million and although his first season was hit and miss, he is expected to be a huge success in the coming years.
Still just 24 years of age, Keita has plenty time to get over his injury hassles and take Europe by storm and as Saunders has astutely pointed out, Klopp doesn’t need to offer £90m-rated Coutinho a second chance because his number eight will fill his boots.
Saunders told talkSPORT: “Liverpool haven’t missed him. They lost one game all season and lost the league by one point when Man City won each of their last 14 games, so they didn’t bottle it.
“If you were critical, they may be lacking a really inventive midfield player. Wijnaldum, Henderson, Milner, Fabinho – they’re all workman like but I think we’ll see more of Keita this season; he was brought in to carry the ball, go into the last third and make things happen.
“What a good deal it was – they sold Coutinho for £142m and they signed [Virgil] van Dijk, Fabinho, Keita, Shaqiri, Alisson… and won the Champions League! Great business, well done Jurgen Klopp! You get lots of criticism in football, but that was a good move.”
If Keita can put a strong run of games together and avoid getting injured, he could be the best midfielder in the Premier League next season and could even be an early outside shout for the 2020 PFA Player of the Year.
For opposition sides, underestimating him is a dangerous tactic and as he proved in the Champions League against Bayern Munich, he is more than capable of going toe to toe with the best central midfielders on the planet.
If he can play around 30 games in the league, he will have more than enough game time to demonstrate why the club was prepared to spend so much money to sign him.
Having a fully fit and firing Naby Keita could be the magic key to unlocking the title race and bringing the Premier League title to Anfield for the first time.