Naby Keita put in a performance to remember as Liverpool thrashed Manchester United 5-0. The Guinean was magnificent.
Unfortunately, we only got an hour of Naby Keita at Old Trafford. A horror tackle from Paul Pogba ended his afternoon prematurely, forcing him off on a stretcher.
What an hour it was, though. We knew Keita could play a key role here but we didn’t think he’d be this good.
Keita was instrumental in getting Liverpool forward and showed how difficult he is to mark inside five minutes. He drifted through Manchester United to get on the end of Mohamed Salah’s pass before comfortably finishing past David De Gea.
But that was just the beginning. Keita would play significant roles in two more goals before half-time.
For the season, Keita won the ball back right on the edge of United’s box. His pass out wide to Trent Alexander-Arnold came back across for Diogo Jota to score.
The third was thanks to Keita, too. He gravitated right once again, finding space to receive the ball and get his head up. A cut-back to Salah returned the favour for the first.
And these are just the obvious moments. Keita had a brilliant game from front to back, creating four chances for teammates, winning a tackle and picking up three interceptions.
Keita shines in 5-0 win
We called this Keita’s best display in a Liverpool shirt right after the game and stand by that. He was fantastic.
This was a huge game for multiple reasons and he played as big a part as anyone that wasn’t Mohamed Salah. United, quite simply, couldn’t handle Keita.
His movement from midfield was exceptional, consistently finding space and using it wonderfully well. Keita looked like a world-beater here – like the £53m signing Liverpool made in 2018.
Only Virgil van Dijk and Alisson cost Liverpool more than Keita. The other two have established themselves as firm stars and, arguably, the best in the world in their positions.
Keita never has and we’ve never seen a display that lived up to that £53m price tag. There have been some very good games, of course, but none of the magnitude that justifies that kind of outlay.
That changed at Old Trafford. Keita stepped up in a massive game and looked unstoppable, finally looking like a game-changing, £53m signing.
If this is a sign of things to come, Liverpool have something special.