The Premier League is set to restart soon with the clubs looking to end the season on a high. Liverpool are the best-placed team with the title almost within their reach, and it is expected that after officially securing the league, the manager would make a few changes to his first eleven. One player who needs to make a mark between now and the end of the season is Naby Keïta.
In a recent interview with Football Insider, former England international Danny Mills has suggested that it is make or break time for the African and he would have to prove his worth if he is to have a long term future with the club. Mills said, “I think it is make a break for Keita next season. He needs to make a real impact if he is going to stay at Liverpool long-term.”
The expectations from Keïta
When Liverpool made a deal with Leipzig in 2017 to bring Keïta to Anfield the following season, many would have hoped that the manager had found a solution for the midfield for a long time. For the German side, he had been a regular in the first eleven, notching up 58 league appearances in two seasons. However, injuries have played a big part since Keita’s arrival at the Merseyside club, and it had delayed his debut as a Premier League player.
While last season he appeared in 25 matches for the Reds in the league, this term the output has been much more inconsistent. So far, the midfielder has played in just nine games for the side, five of which have been from the bench. Further, we have seen him ply his trade four times in the Champions League.
The impact of Keïta
In his limited appearances, we have already seen the potential that the Guinea international possesses. Although he plays at the centre of the pitch, he frequently moves forward to join his team in the attack and these are the occasions where we can see the flair and creativity of the player.
At times, the midfielder has shown his sublime touches and his excellent ball distribution. This season he has completed 88.9% of his total passes in the league. In the match against Bournemouth, Keïta had displayed his skills and his ability to control the game on his own. However, the supporters and the manager would be hoping to see those kinds of performances more often. It is almost two years that the 25-year-old had joined the Anfield side, and now it is high time that he lives up to his potential.
Liverpool’s strategy going into the next season
Assuming that Klopp does not bring any new players in the side to man the midfield, we can expect a trio of Henderson, Fabinho and Wijnaldum to be the regular starters for the club. Among them, Fabinho would be more defensively placed while the Dutchman would be asked to move ahead and help his team in the attack.
This is where things will be tricky as the ex-Newcastle star is in the last year of his contract, and unless Liverpool sort out the situation soon, Klopp could be in favour of limiting the game time for Wijnaldum. Keïta, in that scenario, would prove to be a vital member of the team and next term, his services could be called upon more often. The Guinean is an extremely talented footballer, and if he settles into his role smoothly, he can take the Premier League by storm.
Stats from Whoscored.