When Guinea international Naby Keïta arrived from Bundesliga outfit RB Leipzig this summer, there was a lot expected from him.
The Liverpool fans had a year of expectation before the 23-year-old’s arrival, after the midfielder was signed in the summer of 2017, but due to join a year later. In that year, he was given the legendary number eight shirt previously worn by Steven Gerrard. Suddenly there was a lot of pressure on his shoulders.
Then again, this is pressure that Keïta earned during his time at RB Leipzig. In his first season at the club, and their first season in the Bundesliga, they came second, earning qualification to the Champions League. In that miraculous campaign, Keïta was the heartbeat of the team, scoring eight goals in the league, and proving to be a true box-to-box midfielder. Of course, last season at the club was equally impressive, but there was no longer the case of him bursting onto the scene.
But this season, it is fair to say that Keïta has not lived up to the expectation. Now before some fans jump to judge him, this could potentially be down to the fact that Liverpool are performing so well this season, but he has nonetheless found himself slip out of the team. Not only has he been plagued by injuries, but Jürgen Klopp has found it hard to nail down what his role in the team is. He is both defensive and creative, but he is perhaps not a resolute as a midfielder like Fabinho, neither does he have the flair of someone like Philippe Coutinho at Anfield.
This means that it will take some time for him to not only become accustomed to Liverpool, but for Klopp to truly understand the player and his role in the team. However, at the age of 23, there is no denying that he has a very bright future at Anfield, but the fans may still need to wait a while for it to become fully ignited.