Liverpool signed Naby Keita back in 2018 for a huge transfer fee. Unfortunately, its failure denies them the succession plan they needed.
Naby Keita to Liverpool remains a huge transfer for Liverpool. In fact, they haven’t spent more than that £53m fee since the summer he arrived.
But let’s just get one thing out of the way – the move has been a failure. Keita plays no significant role for Liverpool and he hasn’t made a significant contribution to any of the major trophies.
There’s a worrying trend with Keita, too, where he only plays well when the team does. His best games exclusively come in appearances where the going is good.
There are remarkably few – if any – examples of Keita performing against the grain as Curtis Jones did against Manchester City on Sunday.
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But we’re not even writing Keita off. The 26-year-old (happy birthday) is actually immune to being written off, in fact.
Whenever you come close, he jumps back into the side and has a really promising performance. Then you find yourself saying ‘if he can just do that consistently’ as the hope comes back.
Keita has the ability to be a star and he may well be a sensational player for Liverpool down the line. But right now, the transfer has been a failure. He simply hasn’t done the one thing he’s here for.
Keita was signed to be a long-term piece at Liverpool. He was only 23 when he arrived and that was an age that lined up wonderfully.
He’s now in his prime years – perfect! Keita can simply slot into the side as Gini Wijnaldum departs at the end of his contract. He’s the right age to take over as Jordan Henderson moves into his 30s, too. It’s all ideal.
But that’s not going to happen, is it? Liverpool are absolutely not going into next season with the idea that Keita is a fundamental part of their starting XI.
That’s money they wouldn’t have wanted to spend. They’d want Keita to step up as the star in his prime and focus more on youth products to fill gaps like Jones.
Instead, Jones is now above Keita in the pecking order and they’re looking to spend to find more reliability.
Keita may well come good one day. Perhaps injuries are the sole reason he’s not a star. But the fact he hasn’t done it by now puts Liverpool in an unwanted position to spend.