Marko Grujic has left on loan and that’s great news for Naby Keita. The Guinean has one less player gunning for his place.
Liverpool wanted to sell Grujic. There’s no doubt about that. As the Liverpool Echo says, the Reds hoped to get £20m for the midfielder after he impressed for two years at Hertha BSC.
But after a potential move to Weder Bremen broke down, the Reds settled for loan to FC Porto. He’ll head there for a year with no option to buy.
And him leaving is great news for Keita.
Liverpool have a lot of options in midfield but only one of them is a guaranteed starter when fully-fit. That’s Jordan Henderson. Thiago will hopefully join him there before long, of course, but he’s still a new signing.
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Then things get complicated. Fabinho is certainly a first XI player but he now splits his time between midfield and defence. Gini Wijnaldum is another who has been a regular but his contract is up in under a year – do Liverpool invest the same amount of time in him?
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is injured and Keita isn’t playing well. So, despite all the competition, there is a chance for Grujic. And Keita is the one who should worry the most.
So if Fabinho isn’t playing in midfield, it’s because he’s in defence. If Henderson and Thiago aren’t there, they’re injured. Wijnaldum can’t feel safe with a spot until he’s sorted his future.
Thus if Grujic was to break into the team, it would have been at £53m Keita‘s expense. He’s the one who could fall down the pecking order and struggle to get back up.
Jurgen Klopp hooked Keita at half-time against Villa. And understandably so. He’d made no key passes, lost the one ariel duel he attempted, lost the one tackle he attempted, made no interceptions, was dribbled past once, and was tackled once.
Everyone but Mohamed Salah played poorly but for Keita, nothing went well. It was a similar story against Arsenal before that – Keita failed with his duels, was dispossessed twice, and dribbled past once.
Klopp will drop him before long. Fortunately for Keita, the fact Grujic is gone means he has a little more leeway before he worries for his future.