With Liverpool due to benefit from a two-week lay-off from club football, Naby Keita could be a player Jurgen Klopp looks heavily towards during the final international break of the season.
The Guinean international has featured in Liverpool’s previous three matches, after all. It feels like now is really when he can kick-on following another injury ravaged campaign at Anfield.
In fact, Keita has frequently battled injuries practically since his Liverpool tenure began in 2018 following a £48 million [BBC] switch from RB Leipzig.
Still, every time Keita returns to the first-team picture, there is that familiar sense of hope that this really could be the time he solidifies himself as an integral asset to Klopp’s Premier League-winning squad.
He has already shown signs of his undeniable quality, after all, in brief cameos against Wolves and RB Leipzig.
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Signs of progress from Keita
Last night against Wolves, Keita provided Liverpool with an immediate injection of quality upon his arrival from the bench.
He created two chances during the hard-fought 1-0 victory at Molineux – only Trent Alexander-Arnold (three) managed more all game.
The clash in Budapest against Leipzig was a similar story, too. Keita clocked up two key passes during the 2-0 Champions League second-leg victory last week – more than any other Liverpool player.
So, in just two matches it has become clear that Keita is able to influence matches where his midfield counterparts simply cannot.
This could be useful to Klopp in the final few months of the 2020/21 campaign, particularly with Gini Wijnaldum expected to leave at the end of the season.
Uncovering a new system
Could Keita be integrated into a midfield trio alongside Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara in the coming weeks, then? You’ve got Fabinho marshalling and providing that defensive security, Thiago with a licence to push forward and link attack, with Keita providing that cutting edge in terms of contributing goals and assists.
It’s also a combination we are still yet to see this season. This could be something Klopp works on behind closed doors with Liverpool not back in action until April 4.
So, now Keita is back and playing matches, we can expect to see the player potentially featuring more prominently in the starting XI before too long.
And, hopefully, after three seasons of continuous setbacks, this time, everything will work in Keita’s favour.