Naby Keita may be walking into his final chance at a Liverpool future. Here’s how he can earn it.
Naby Keita has a short-term future with Liverpool – and that wasn’t guaranteed. The Athletic report that there are a few reasons for that.
They claim that Liverpool received no suitable bids for Keita, are worried about a lack of midfielders as it is, and can’t afford to replace him adequately. Combine all three and you’ve got your reason for Keita staying.
And that’s not necessarily being harsh on the 26-year-old. Keita is three years deep into his Liverpool career – his contract only has two more.
If Liverpool don’t move him on now, his price will tank next year. Though, it could also increase. In fact, Keita could still earn himself a long-term future with the Reds.
Can Naby Keita earn his Liverpool future?
The number one thing Keita has to do is stay fit. That’s always been his biggest problem.
There certainly are other problems but if anything stands out about Keita’s time here it’s a lack of consistency. We’ll wait weeks for him to get into the side, a few games later he’ll look exciting, and then he disappears for another three weeks.
It’d be one thing if Keita shone every time he played but that just isn’t the case. It frequently takes time for him to get up to speed, which is a nightmare for an injury-prone player.
But even when he is performing, we want more from Keita. We need to see him pressing hard – much as he did against Hertha BSC this week.
That’s a huge part of his problem at Liverpool. Keita doesn’t work in a pressing unit particularly well, sometimes with disastrous results.
His substitution at half-time against Real Madrid was less to do with his ability and more to do with that pressing. Keita wasn’t getting close enough to Real’s midfielders and that killed Liverpool.
We need to see more aggression without the ball, as well as the discipline to show it when the team needs it. That honestly might be enough to secure his future on its own.
But above all, we just want to see Keita show off his strengths more often. The Guinean is good at pretty much everything at his best – we saw that with RB Leipzig.
For instance, Keita can dribble better than anyone else in the team. He’s proven that before but we barely saw it last season. Why?
There have been times where Keita looked absolutely perfect for Liverpool. When he puts it all together, he’s fantastic.
And that’s the infuriating thing – we know Keita can do all of this. He can press with aggression and intelligence, he can make things happen going forward, he can demonstrate skills that make him elite.
But we see it maybe a couple of times a year.
We can’t imagine Liverpool keep him beyond this season if there’s a fourth year of inconsistency. If Keita wants that future at Anfield, this has to be the year he puts it all together.