Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has said that the Reds are still waiting on midfielder Naby Keita to “take off” following his arrival in summer 2018.
Speaking on talkSPORT‘s Drive [via HITC], the 2005 Champions League winner said that Jurgen Klopp has “world-class” players in goal, in defence and up front, while also describing Liverpool’s midfield as “top-class“.
However, he did air some reservations about Keita, for whom Carragher suggested that this could be a significant season to prove his worth to Klopp; although he acknowledged that the 24-year-old has had some positive moments since coming to Anfield last year in a £52.75m deal from RB Leipzig, as reported by Sky Sports.
“I think the one before Liverpool look in the transfer market is Naby Keita. Liverpool are still waiting for him to take off really. Big transfer fee when he came in and he didn’t quite hit the ground running. Had some good games and some injuries.
“I think the feeling around the club is that they have got to give it a good 12 months to really see what Keita can bring to the midfield. And if he brings what he was supposed to bring then that would add something. But it’s very difficult to talk about Liverpool lacking anything with the number of games they have won on the bounce.”
When looking at Keita’s Liverpool career so far, it’s not hard to see why Carragher feels a little underwhelmed by the Guinean’s contribution considering his transfer fee.
Keita arrived at Anfield having scored 17 goals and set up 15 more in 71 appearances for RB Leipzig, an average of 0.24 goals and 0.21 assists per game. [via TransferMarkt]
In 36 appearances for Liverpool, the 24-year-old has managed just three goals and one assist, which works out at 0.08 goals and 0.03 assists per game. [via TransferMarkt]
His first goal for the club did not come until April, when he scored in a 3-1 win at Southampton, and after two more goals that month, he hasn’t found the target since. [via TransferMarkt]
Carragher is right to allude to Keita’s injury troubles, which saw him miss 13 games last season and another eight in the early weeks of the current campaign. [via TransferMarkt]
While the midfielder has been unlucky with injuries, he need only look at two of his team-mates to see how difficult it can be to get back into the Liverpool line-up after lengthy spells on the treatment table.
After a series of groin and injury problems, Adam Lallana has started just six Premier League games since the start of 2017/18 and played a mere 10 league minutes this season, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has had only two Premier League starts since returning in April from a year out with a serious knee injury.
Keita returned from a torn muscle bundle in Liverpool’s Carabao Cup win over MK Dons last month, but in three subsequent matches, his only game time was a token minute at the end of the Champions League win over former club Red Bull Salzburg. [via TransferMarkt]
With the midfield trio of Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson all playing for 760 minutes or more this season after 13 games, Klopp seems set in his first-choice midfield setup.
Therefore, it’s understandable why Carragher feels that this could be a big season for Keita, who needs to make the most of any action he gets if he is to get anywhere near the kind of figures he recorded at RB Leipzig.
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