After receiving ‘scavenger’ criticism, Jurgen Klopp eventually finds a position for Liverpool’s forgotten star.
The Reds put in a strong performance to beat Burnley 2-0 at Anfield, and one guy in particular stood out.
The departure of Gini Wijnaldum has dominated the conversation around Liverpool in the summer transfer season, with much speculation about who might replace him. Among the clamor for a big-money acquisition, many overlooked the fact that Wijnaldum’s successor was already on the books at Liverpool.
Naby Keita’s time with the Reds has been weird and frustrating. In August 2017, Liverpool confirmed a club-record deal to sign the Guinea international from RB Leipzig, and it has already been just over four years.
The fact that the transaction, which was initially for £48 million but included a slew of add-on clauses, topped Liverpool’s previous high of £35 million paid to Newcastle for Andy Carroll in 2011, demonstrates how long Keita has been a Red.
Keita did not join Liverpool until July 2018, but the year wait only added to the central midfielder’s allure.
His shirt number also changed. Keita was given Steven Gerrard’s No. 8 when he arrived at Anfield, and the club icon presented him with it.
“It’s not to play about with if someone like that gives you his shirt number,” Keita declared. “My motivation is to attempt to do as much as he did.”
That hasn’t happened in the last three years, to put it frankly. Keita has been plagued by injuries, making only 77 appearances and scoring seven goals.
Keita came with a reputation as a box-to-box midfielder who could run all day, bust apart defenses, and score on a regular basis. That was definitely expressed by the No. 8 jersey.
There have been hints of his talent, but he has struggled to keep in shape. Keita has already missed 54 Liverpool matches owing to a variety of issues, according to Transfermarkt.
When he has played, it has usually been as a substitute or in between spells on the bench when he has struggled to create a rhythm. Or in the incorrect position, as his agent Malick Kebe believes.
In May, Kebe tweeted, “You see what he will contribute to Liverpool the day Coach Klopp gets Naby Keita to play in his favored role.”
“He’s not a scavenger; he’s a playmaker. Hello, that’s great to hear.”
It wasn’t the plan, but it was Wijnaldum’s. “Brinkwire Summary News.”