Liverpool and Manchester United have endured contrasting starts to the new Premier League season, which in some way represents the contrastingly different transfer windows the two heavyweights enjoyed during the summer.
Jurgen Klopp’s Reds were very busy during the market in bolstering areas of the squad clearly in need of improvement, with goalkeeper Alisson coming in as a replacement for the error-prone Loris Karius, while Naby Keita and Fabinho were signed to provide even more strength and industry in the midfield department.
Whereas things were somewhat trickier for United boss Jose Mourinho who added just a handful of names to his squad, the most high-profile of which was midfielder Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk for a fee believed to be around £47 million.
And it’s the additions of messrs Fred and Keita that have been of particular interest to many up and down the country, given much is expected of the two midfielders, so let’s take a look at how the duo compare…
United fend off reported interest from neighbours and Premier League champions Manchester City to lure the Brazil international to Old Trafford during the summer, in a move which appears to be exactly what Mourinho and the club need in the middle of the park.
Last term, Paul Pogba was somewhat restricted in the attacking third of the pitch to instead carry out greater defensive duties in the heart of the midfield, which is a far cry away from the player that shone for France in their World Cup success earlier in the summer.
Yet Fred’s arrival should enable the 23-year-old to play slightly further forward and thus affect play in the attacking third of the pitch, with that having already been seen somewhat this term in Pogba’s man-of-the-match display against Leicester City on the opening day.
Already, the addition of the 25-year-old Brazilian has helped United in the middle of the park, and while there are likely to be some concerns with his discipline, the midfielder could prove to be a very shrewd addition indeed by Mourinho and the Red Devils hierarchy.
TT Grade: A
Liverpool fans were eagerly anticipating the arrival of Keita from RB Leipzig during the summer, what with a deal having been completed much earlier for the midfielder, and it’s fair to say that they have not been disappointed by the 23-year-old.
The Guinea international has made an outstanding start to life on Merseyside in already making a midfield spot his own in Klopp’s team, thus giving the Reds the box-to-box midfielder they need to seriously pose a challenge to league champions City this season.
His energy and relentless work-ethic complements Klopp’s high-octane pressing game, yet the 23-year-old also has great ability on the ball in possessing excellent vision and a keen eye for a pass – he has everything needed to succeed in the centre of Liverpool’s midfield.
And such has been the Reds’ outstanding start to the new Premier League season, it’s pretty clear that Keita is already having the sort of influence Liverpool fans were hoping he would have following his move to Anfield over the summer.
TT Grade: A+
Clearly, both Fred and Keita will have a significant impact and influence on their respective clubs, be it allowing other players to finally flourish in the case of the former, or indeed in giving Liverpool the box-to-box midfielder they desperately need in the latter.
But based on the opening three games of the campaign, it appears that £58.5 million-rated Keita (as per Transfermarkt) may be the missing piece of the Liverpool jigsaw which can finally help take them towards the Premier League title.
Liverpool and Man United fans… what do you think? Let us know!