Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita is in line to return to the Reds’ squad for Saturday’s Premier League clash at home to Newcastle following a recent injury.
The Daily Express reported that the 24-year-old could be available for selection once the international break ends, having missed nearly a month of action after he limped out of training with a muscle injury prior to the UEFA Super Cup in mid-August, as tweeted by The Mirror’s David Maddock.
2019 has been a frustrating, injury-plagued year for Keita, who endured muscular and groin problems in the final three months of last season, being ruled out of nine matches altogether. [via TransferMarkt.co.uk]
He was then named in Guinea’s Africa Cup of Nations squad despite admitting to not being fully fit, as reported by BBC, and had to fly back to Liverpool in the middle of the tournament for a medical assessment from Merseyside doctors.
Keita has yet to feature in the Premier League this season and was given just 23 minutes as a substitute in the Community Shield against Manchester City at the start of August. [via TransferMarkt.co.uk]
The midfielder cost Liverpool £52.75m from RB Leipzig upon coming to Anfield in summer 2018, as reported by the Liverpool Echo, but started just 16 Premier League games in his first season for the Reds and had only four Champions League starts.
Even if Keita is fit for Saturday, he would likely have to displace one of Jordan Henderson or Georginio Wijnaldum if he is to start against Newcastle.
Henderson has averaged two tackles per game so far in 2019/20, with defensive midfielder Fabinho averaging 3.3 per game, while Wijnaldum has been Liverpool’s most efficient passer this season with 90.7% accuracy (discounting Adam Lallana’s one out of one success rate). [via WhoScored.com]
Keita’s goal return is underwhelming for a midfielder who cost more than £50m and, while Liverpool haven’t had any goals from midfield so far this season, Wijnaldum was on target for the Netherlands in their 4-2 Euro 2020 qualifying win over Germany last Friday.
Jurgen Klopp has largely kept faith with a midfield trio to Henderson, Wijnaldum (both started every league game) and Fabinho (started three of four league games), while also calling upon Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain frequently in recent weeks.
Even if Keita, who is valued at £54 million (as per Transfermarkt), is fit for Saturday, he could find himself starting from the bench given Klopp’s faith in Liverpool’s regular midfield trio for this season.
Liverpool fans, should Keita come straight back into the team against Newcastle if he is fit enough to start? Give us your thoughts by commenting below!
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