Liverpool’s forgotten man has final chance to prove worth and repay manager Jurgen Klopp
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If there is one Liverpool player who cannot afford to have another below-par campaign, it is Naby Keita. The Guinean midfielder was seen as a real coup by those associated with the Reds back in 2017, having agreed a then club-record fee for his services.
Liverpool were prepared to wait another year for Keita to arrive at Anfield as part of the deal and began working with the former RB Leipzig man in the summer of 2018.
Keita was named in the Bundesliga Team of the Season for the 2016/17 campaign and had become an influential figure at Leipzig by the time Liverpool struck a deal to sign him.
But the same player has not been witnessed on Merseyside after a stuttering start to life at Liverpool, leaving many supporters frustrated.
Keita has had his fair share of injuries while at the club but has failed to massively impress when fit and available for selection.
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Operating alongside other members of the team such as Fabinho and Jordan Henderson, the 26-year-old has been unable to hit the heights of those around him and faces a battle on his hands to win back the trust of his manager.
Jurgen Klopp could not contain his excitement after a deal was agreed to sign Keita and spoke highly of the midfielder when discussing this move.
Klopp said: “He is the player of the league. Last year, together with Thiago Alcantara, who played an outstanding season for Bayern, he was the flier.
“He has been doing that already for two or three years in different leagues. He is still a very young boy. So that’s really good news.
“OK, we have to wait but sometimes you have to wait for a really good thing. I have no problem with this; how you can imagine, I would have preferred another situation but that’s not a problem. It’s cool.”
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The Reds’ boss will certainly have wished to see more from Keita when fit and featuring in the side to justify the club’s decision to spend over £50million to bring him to Anfield – but there is still time for Keita to win over fans.
Liverpool are still getting to grips with the departure of Gini Wijnaldum and will need players to take responsibility and fill the void. Keita can be the man to prevent Klopp spending millions of pounds in the transfer market.
With two years remaining on his current contract, the 25-year-old will have to show much more on the pitch to have any chance of a renewal becoming a possibility.
Divock Origi is living proof that a player can still turn their Liverpool career around when it seems dead and buried, having bounced back from an underwhelming loan spell at Wolfsburg to becoming a Champions League hero for the club.
Liverpool will be going in search of silverware ahead of the upcoming campaign and cannot afford to have any passengers as they prepare to move on from the extreme challenges faced last season.
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