Naby Keita didn’t really take his chance against FC Midtjylland. It was the second time a teenager outshone him this season.
Naby Keita started against Midtjylland on Wednesday. It was his first start since Leicester City at home, having picked up an injury in that time.
Unfortunately for Keita, that opened the door for Curtis Jones to cement himself as a first-team option. So with that, Keita desperately needs some solid performances.
Being lower in the pecking order than a younger player is a very difficult position, after all. Keita won’t improve much, given his age, but Jones will – he’s 19 and developing rapidly.
If Keita is behind Jones now, where will he be in a year?
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But Keita really didn’t impress against Midtjylland. In fact, a second 19-year-old took the spotlight away.
Leighton Clarkson wasn’t perfect against Midtjylland but then, this was his debut with what you’d call the first-team. His other outings in first-team fixtures always came with the youth team.
With that in mind, he was impressive. He ran further than anyone on the pitch, created a chance, and looked tidy enough in possession. There’s great potential there.
Keita, on the other hand, did very little. Despite being in a more advanced position than Clarkson, the Guinean managed one shot, zero key passes and zero dribbles.
He was anonymous going forward, despite that being his role in the team.
Clarkson just looked bright and busier – you could see how he’s going to improve in the team. You can’t really say the same about Keita.
So this is all a very worrying position for the player. Liverpool paid £53m to sign Keita but right now, we’d rather see more from two academy teenagers.
They look more ready to affect games and more likely to improve. We’ve been waiting years for Keita to kick on, after all, but his finest performance is still arguably his debut against West Ham United in 2018.
And at a time when he should be looking to overtake Jones, Keita is looking back over his shoulder at the developing Clarkson.