Naby Keita is even further down the pecking order than we thought. The Guinean has had a tough season so far.
The pecking order at Liverpool doesn’t seem very kind to Naby Keita. Judging from the Manchester City clash, anyway.
The Guinean sat on the bench for the game and never came on. Now, that’s not usually the worst thing in the world but Jurgen Klopp didn’t even make three substitutions.
He opted for no one over Keita – not a good look. ‘But what about the other subs?’ we hear you say.
Well, James Milner and Xherdan Shaqiri did come on. Adrian, as a goalkeeper, was never likely to get on. Nathaniel Phillips is a very inexperienced player without much senior football – not a great option away at City.
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Divock Origi is someone else who didn’t get on but we’d put him in the same position as Keita.
That leaves Curtis Jones who, of course, plays the same position as Keita. The biggest difference, though, is that Jones played 70 minutes against West Ham United last week and then the full 90 against Atalanta.
It would appear he’s higher up the list than Keita, then, and that he didn’t play against City because he needed rest.
But despite being far more fresh, Klopp still didn’t pick Keita.
It will not be easy for Keita to get back into Klopp’s first-choice plans, then. He’s clearly far behind both Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum. Thiago will surely join those two once he’s back.
His biggest problem, though, is if he truly is behind Jones. Because Jones is still only 19 – he’s absolutely nowhere near his peak.
Jones will only get better and if Keita doesn’t improve fast, the Scouser will pull further and further away.
And Keita will have to improve a lot. In five appearances this season, he has zero goals or assists. He’s only created two chances, in fact, and it’s three games since he made a tackle or an assist.
He’s never looked like fulfilling his potential since joining for £53m but this is arguably Keita’s worst season yet.
He needs to step up the next chance he gets or this may not just be his worst but his last.