Naby Keita didn’t quite put in the performance we hoped for against Leeds United on Saturday. The Guinean still has a ways to go.
Keita shone after the restart last season. His games picked up wonderfully as he dominated certain statistics. He left all of his teammates in the dust when it came to dribbling, for one.
We felt Keita was playing like Jurgen Klopp’s dream player. He could score, he could create, he could tackle, and he had the energy to do it all in a game.
There’s a reason we named Keita as one of our three players we most wanted to see against Leeds.
It’s a shame, then, that Keita was quite disappointing.
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Not quite there yet
The big question hanging over Keita was whether he could carry his form over and be consistent. That’s always been his biggest problem, after all. Can he become a reliable player, rather than just someone who shines every now and then?
That’s certainly the player Liverpool want. They need that kind of direct, all-action midfielder who can do the intricate stuff alongside disciplined work.
And if he could keep up his form even after a pre-season, then that would bode incredibly well for the new season.
Instead, Keita just never got going. He had positive moments, certainly. There were little dribbles here and there, as well as some nice pressing at times.
But in the end, he finished the game without a successful tackle, without any key passes, and without a significant impact.
Now, to his credit, he did intercept three passes. That was the most of any midfielder but then he also gave away possession three times. That’s as many as the other five starting centre-midfielders on either side put together.
This isn’t us writing Keita off. Far from it, in fact – we still think he’s set for a very good season. But it does appear that we’ll have to wait for that, rather than seeing his excellent form from last season continue into this one.
The challenge now, then, is to recapture that form and prove he can string it together again. If he can have a second spell of top form, then Liverpool can feel comfortable that there’s an elite player in there.
It’s still ‘wait and see’, though. Fingers crossed that he’s back to best over the next few weeks and we can rave about him once again.