Injury may rule Naby Keita out of the UEFA Super Cup final against Chelsea on Wednesday – is there reason for Liverpool to really worry about the Guinean?
As the Liverpool Echo say, the Reds will asses Keita ahead of the game after he limped out of training. While he may well pass, it’s the latest example of Keita’s stop-start Anfield career.
He hasn’t actually been injured too much – the Echo point out that he was in 41 matchday squads last year.
The real problem is the uncertainty that constantly surrounds him. Will he be fit? Maybe. Will he start? Maybe. Will he perform? Maybe – and if so, how?
It makes you wonder when you can count on him. Liverpool have had plenty of players with injury problems but they come with some guarantees.
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Adam Lallana, for example, is rarely ready to play, but the key is you know what you get once he is. He’ll press, hold onto the ball, and keep things tidy. Daniel Sturridge, now gone, of course, came with a guarantee of goals for a long time, despite injuries.
But Keita doesn’t have a guarantee and we don’t actually know what he brings at the top level. That’s not to say he can’t perform and some of his qualities are obvious, but as for his specific role in the team, we haven’t seen it yet.
And every time we think Keita will settle, an injury or flat performance shows itself – that’s the worry.
He needs settled game time so he can find his place in the team. You need that time to grow into a role, much like how Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain slowly played more centrally after starting in wide roles.
Or Fabinho needing time to get used to playing as the sole holding player.
Keita hasn’t had that time since arriving for £52.75m. If he doesn’t get it soon, his chance to make his mark at Anfield could pass him by.