Pep Lijnders loved what he saw from Naby Keita against Hertha BSC. The Liverpool midfielder showed ‘pure willpower’.
Liverpool lost 4-3 to Hertha BSC on Thursday. That doesn’t mean there weren’t plenty of positives, however.
Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez’s return to action undoubtedly top that particular list, of course. But we also liked how Kostas Tsimikas played, how some of the link-up play was fantastic and Liverpool’s energy levels hit new heights for this pre-season.
There was one other standout – Naby Keita. The Guinean had a very solid first half, with the highlight being his work Liverpool’s second goal.
As Hertha tried to play out from the back, Keita stole in with a fantastic, aggressive interception in their half. Then he quickly played a perfect through-ball for Mohamed Salah who teed up Takumi Minamino to score.
Salah’s work was as magnificent as every but Keita made it all happen. And he did it in a way we don’t usually see.
The 26-year-old isn’t the most aggressive player in the world. He can sometimes shy away from moments like that but Keita forced himself on the game and made something happen.
Unsurprisingly, the caught the eye of Pep Lijnders.
Lijnders on Keita vs Hertha
“Naby tackled inside our counter-press, changed a 50/50 into a 60/40 with pure willpower,” he wrote for Liverpoolfc.com. “From there going forward straight away and Mo combining quickly with Taki for the goal.
“The fighting spirit of Naby was a real plus, the spontaneous combinations was a real plus.”
It was a great moment and we really hope to see more of that from Keita this season. This might be his last shot at a future with Liverpool but these are the things that will earn him a new contract.
Hopefully, Keita can finally add this willpower and ‘fighting spirit’ on a regular basis.