Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita has failed at the club and isn’t a viable option in the team anymore.
That’s the view of Reds legend Mark Lawrenson. Speaking to Off The Ball, Lawrenson said he hasn’t seen enough from Keita since his move in 2018.
“Keita’s never really done it. He’s one of the few Klopp signings that’s not really done it. We’ve seen it in little bits and pieces and you think ‘wow, what a player’ but he just disappears in games,” said the pundit.
The Guinean wasn’t the only one of Jurgen Klopp’s midfield options to take some flak from Lawro, though. Jordan Henderson was also deemed to be ‘struggling’ by the former Republic of Ireland international.
“Jordan Henderson, I don’t know how much [ground] he covers in terms of the games, wherever he goes and plays et cetera, but he’s way off the pace at the moment. He’s really, really struggling,” he said, before doubling-down on his Keita point.
“You’re looking around and saying ‘well, who can we replace him with?’ Well do you know what, we don’t really have anyone we can replace him with. We can’t stick Keita in again, well we can, but he’s just never ever done it. You can see there’s something there but he’s one of those who have failed.”
Time almost up for Keita
As much as we’d like to argue against Lawrenson’s analysis, it’s tough to make a convincing argument for Naby.
Yes, he’s obviously a really good player. We saw that again last night as he completed a rare 90 minutes. It’s also pretty evident that right now, Liverpool are better with him in the team. Perhaps that has always been the case throughout his four-and-a-half years at Anfield.
But the fact is that he simply hasn’t been on the pitch enough. Since arriving in 2018, he’s played just 124 times for Liverpool. That’s an average of around 27 per season.
Compare his stats to Fabinho, who arrived at the same time in the same area of the pitch, and you get an idea of how much football he’s missed. The Brazilian has played 72 more times for Liverpool in the same period – almost two full Premier League season’s worth.
For this reason alone, and the £48m fee, Keita’s time at the club can’t go down as a success. Successful in terms of trophies won, maybe yes. But he didn’t contribute as much as expected to those successes. There remains a hope that he could extend his stay at Anfield and prove everyone wrong. But at the moment, that feels like an outside shot.
So, unless there’s something miraculous coming for the remainder of this season, we can confidently assess Keita’s Liverpool career in totality. In doing so, Lawrenson certainly won’t be alone in this verdict. Oh, what could have been Naby.