Naby Keita is a player that has split opinions ever since his arrival at Liverpool back in 2018. Some Liverpool fans want the midfielder to extend his contract, whilst others believe his time at the football club is running out & Liverpool just need to move on.
Naby Keita arrived on Merseyside from RB Leipzig back in 2018. The promising 23-year-old midfielder had a brilliant two-year period at the German club, showing the whole of Europe what he could do. Liverpool struck a deal with Leipzig to sign the Guinean international, however the deal allowed Keita to remain at Leipzig until the end of the 2017/18 campaign. Liverpool fans were disappointed not to have him instantly, but also full of excitement for his arrival in the summer.
Since his arrival, Naby Keita has played in a total of 117 games scoring 11 goals whilst assisting 7 times. When Keita has played, he has undoubtedly shown his class for Liverpool & he doesn’t have too many bad games.
Last season, Naby Keita averaged 3.62 tackles per 90 minutes, and 8.23 successful pressures per 90 minutes. These are the highest rates of any Liverpool player (to have started 10 games) since Keita arrived back in 2018. (via @StatATM on Twitter)
Another stat to back up Keita’s brilliance on the pitch, in EVERY single season since his arrival, he has averaged the most pressures per 90 minutes. In every single season. There hasn’t been another player for the club with more. Keita also ranks 1st place amongst his fellow midfielders in successful pressures, successful tackles, dribbles completed, goals scored & successful passes into the penalty box (all per 90 minutes)
However, it’s getting him to play that has been the consistent problem since his arrival in the Premier League.
In four seasons, Naby Keita has been unavailable for a total of 62 games. That’s essentially a full Premier League season & a quarter added all together. As far as I’m concerned, this has been the only issue regarding the midfielder since he signed for Liverpool. His ability has never been an issue.
So, where does the speculation come from regarding his potential exit?
Well, highly respected & reliable journalist Florian Plettenberg claims that Naby Keita is unhappy with his situation at Liverpool and could potentially leave the club in this transfer window.
This is where all of the speculation comes from. Florian Plettenberg was the first journalist to report Sadio Mane’s exit from the club & knows Mane’s agent very well, who also happens to be Naby Keita’s agent’.
However, all of this speculation has been quickly dismissed by local journalists & Jurgen Klopp himself. Ian Doyle of the Liverpool Echo has stated that contract talks between Naby Keita & the club are still ongoing, and that the player has not indicated to the club that he wants to leave. Jurgen Klopp also stated in his press conference today that nobody has come to him & said anything like that, saying it’s fine for players to not be happy if they aren’t playing.
Liverpool fans have mixed opinions on the Guinean. Some (like myself) are hoping that the club & Keita come to an agreement on terms, whilst others believe that it is time to move on. I believe that the 27-year-old still has a big point to prove to his doubters, especially after being available for the majority of the season last time out. Jurgen Klopp confirmed that he didn’t play on Monday night as he was recovering from his illness & that he will be back in contention to start on Monday night.
Liverpool are already in need of a midfielder in my opinion, so it would make absolute zero sense to allow one of their current midfield options to leave in this summer window. Speculation continues to mount over Jude Bellingham signing for the club next summer, with a move in this current transfer window looking impossible. If Keita has to leave the club in order for the 19-year-old to sign, I don’t think too many people would complain. However, this would put Liverpool in a position where they need at least one or two more midfielders in my opinion.