Why Naby Keita has decided he will leave Liverpool at the end of the season
Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images

Why Naby Keita has decided he will leave Liverpool at the end of the season

Naby Keita has decided to leave Liverpool at the end of the season, having become disillusioned at the club.

That’s according to journalist Graeme Bailey, anyway. Speaking to TeamTalk, Bailey claimed that Keita decided not to sign a new contract at Anfield having been omitted from the Champions League final starting XI.

“One who is heading out looks to be Keita, but his situation is a complicated one. I understand he still feels aggrieved by many situations at the club,” said the journalist.

“Jurgen Klopp loves him as a player, always has, and ideally I am told he would like him to stay. Indeed, at 27 he is arguably coming to his peak, or at the very least should be. Keita also knows he has not quite delivered since his big-money switch from RB Leipzig in 2018. However, Keita’s decision is based on what happened last summer.”

Photo by MB Media/Getty Images

Keita upset over Champions League snub

“He was left out of the Champions League final which hurt him. He had produced some brilliant displays before the big clash with Real Madrid and genuinely thought he was going to start that game in Paris. But that was followed up by a big reason for him now seemingly heading to the exit door. And that was the fact that Liverpool did not reward him for his form. He produced what he thought was his best ever form for Liverpool and indeed in his career. But talks were not forthcoming and this hurt him, and concerned him in equal measure.

“Now, despite seeing some increasing game time in recent weeks, he is not really thinking of staying at Anfield. And while you can’t rule out a late offer, he already has interest from the likes of Inter and AC Milan, Lyon and perhaps interestingly RB Leipzig. They brought back Timo Werner last year. And they would love to pair him again with Keita after both starred for the club when they were together.”

Naby’s time at Anfield drawing to a close

This is kind of a neat way of summarising Keita’s situation at Liverpool, actually. On the one hand there is the acknowledgement that he hasn’t performed consistently well enough since his £48m move from Leipzig. But on the other, there’s also the recognition that he has been very good at times, too.

Last season Naby finally married the two things together, to some extent anyway. It’s definitely a stretch from Bailey to suggest that the 27-year-old put in some ‘brilliant’ displays prior to the final with Madrid in May. Nevertheless though, Keita was playing well and playing often.

Photo by James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images

As a result, it did seem like he’d done enough to earn himself a new contract. To that end, there were plenty of reports that talks were progressing smoothly at the end of last campaign.

Quite why they didn’t come to a positive conclusion has never been fully explained. Bailey’s suggestion is that Keita perhaps didn’t feel the club were offering good enough terms. Either way, ever since then Liverpool have probably been justified in that.

Keita is finally having a run in the team right now, but he didn’t play at all until January. Taking his previous injury history into account too, a parting of the ways feels better for everyone. That’s a real shame. A Liverpool career that started with such promise has just never really felt like it’s got going properly.

But as for starting in the Champions League final, we’re actually with Klopp on that. There were question marks over Thiago Alcantara’s fitness though, and perhaps this did eventually end up costing Liverpool slightly. Still, Naby had the chance to make himself a hero late on. We’ll never forget his wayward effort in the dying minutes of the final.

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