Paul Merson has claimed that Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita has had less than five good games in five years.
Keita is set to leave the Reds this summer, having been frustrated by injuries during his time at Anfield. And commenting on the Guinean’s farewell alongside Roberto Firmino and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Sportskeeda, Merson said he just couldn’t work out what Keita was good for.
“Firmino is an unbelievable player and I would like to think he’s a legend of the Jurgen Klopp era at Liverpool. Salah and Sadio Mane produced the numbers season after season, but Firmino knitted it all together. I couldn’t talk highly enough of the man – Liverpool wouldn’t have been as good as they were if it wasn’t for him,” he mused.
“Oxlade-Chamberlain is a great player but he’s just been dogged by injuries over the years. If he gets fit, he could be a great signing for a handful of Premier League clubs.
“As for Keita, I can count on one hand the number of good games he’s hand for Liverpool. He’s a talented player but I don’t think he ever played 20 games in a row for the Reds, I have no idea why things just never happened for him at Anfield.”
Naby runs out of time
It seems a little harsh of Merson to give such stark analyses of Oxlade-Chamberlain and Keita. In acknowledging that Ox has been ‘dogged by injuries,’ it seems strange not to do the same for Naby, who has had even more issues.
That aside, it’s impossible to totally disagree with the former England midfielder here. It doesn’t feel like Keita ever strung even more than 10 consecutive games together at Liverpool.
Given the availability issues of other members of the Reds midfield over the years, this has often left Jurgen Klopp high and dy.
As a result, Keita’s legacy at Liverpool will not last nearly as long as other members of this terrific squad. As Merson points out, Firmino will leave a legend, a player synonymous with everything good under Klopp so far.
But although he has the same medals as Bobby in his cabinet at home, Keita won’t be held in anything like that regard.
For a player who took over Steven Gerrard’s fabled No.8 shirt at Anfield, that’s a real shame. Everything was there for him to go and become a legend in his own right.
But for whatever reason – and there are some theories out there – Naby could never get fully going. For its own reasons, his is an incredibly sad Liverpool career. But still, we think Merson’s being a little too harsh here. Go and prove them all wrong at your next club, Naby.