Jurgen Klopp believes Liverpool star Naby Keita is one of the best midfielders he’s ever seen. It’s incredibly high praise for a hit-and-miss player.
The Africa Cup of Nations is hitting Liverpool hard, of course. The Reds have several players at the tournament and their absences were on full show in the 0-0 draw with Arsenal last night.
Naturally, given the team failed to score, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane looked extra important in wake of the result. But Jurgen Klopp feels they’re not the only ones Liverpool could do with right now.
“There’s absolutely nothing bad to say about Sadio and Mo – absolutely nothing,” he told a press conference on Friday. “Outstanding players. Naby, I would say, is one of the best midfielders I ever saw.”
It’s incredibly high praise for a player who hasn’t always had his own way of things at Anfield.
Klopp hails Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita
Keita arrived at Liverpool with a big reputation. He’d been one of the Bundesliga’s best players at RB Leipzig and there was a sense that he’d become the undisputed midfield star with the Reds.
Injuries and poor form mean we’ve never consistently seen the best of him, however. Keita only has six Premier League starts this season, for instance. He only had seven in the entirety of the last campaign and nine the year before that.
Those aren’t the figures of an elite player. Or at least, not one Liverpool can rely on.
At his best, though, Keita is magnificent. We don’t see it all that often but there’s little doubt that Klopp’s claim holds up there. We just don’t see Keita at that level enough – we don’t see him at any level enough, really.
So we fully believe Klopp is genuine here. Keita is one of the world’s best midfielders on his day but, as with the first few years of his Liverpool career, the Reds need to see that more often.