If Naby Keita can move past his injury hassles. he can become the best midfielder in the Premier League in the 2019/20 season.
The Guinean midfielder arrived at Anfield with huge expectations after he was signed for £52.75million from RB Leipzig and handed Steven Gerrard’s iconic number eight jersey.
However, a few different injuries curtailed his breakout season at the club and is now playing catch up.
The 24-year-old is due to start pre-season when his teammates return to England after their tour of the United States is concluded in this week.
There aren’t any question marks over Keita’s talent – that’s not in doubt at all – but it remains to be seen whether or not he can remain fit long enough to prove that he is as good as his price tag suggests.
Liverpool fans don’t want to see the former Leipzig dynamo suffer the same fate that Daniel Sturridge did as he slowly had his pace, reactions and energy stripped from him injury by injury.
Injury and rotation prevented him from putting a strong string of games together and while the likes of Kevin De Bruyne might have something to say about whether or not he is considered the best midfielder in the Premier League come May 2020, what we’ve seen from Keita already suggests he’s capable of becoming that player.
If Keita can start 30 out of 38 Premier League games this season, it will also boost Liverpool’s chances of finally being named Champions of England again after their 30-year drought.
Fixtures that showed his class
Three games stand out from last season as being the most impressive from Keita’s point of view as he demonstrated his class against Bournemouth, Leicester City and Bayern Munich.
Against the latter, Keita was absolutely top class, using his dribbling ability and slick passing to navigate through a midfield that featured Thiago, James Rodriguez and Javi Martinez.
But Bournemouth away is still undoubtedly his best performance of his Reds career so far as he dictated the tempo and breezed past several Cherries stars, nutmegging anyone who came near him.
Increasing his output
Before he was unfortunately injured by Ivan Rakitic in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final at Camp Nou, Keita was in an exciting run of form that had seen him score two goals in three games.
If he hopes to become as good as De Bruyne, he needs to score and assist his teammates a lot more frequently just as he did in the Bundesliga when he was directly involved in 17 goals in the 16/17 season.
Do that, and he will at least be considered close to De Bruyne in quality but win the Premier League while playing like he did for RB Leipzig and he will be a PFA Player of the Year contender.