Jurgen Klopp Backs Under-Fire Midfielder to Stay at Anfield

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After his spectacular campaign with RB Leipzig in the 2015/16 season, when the German outfit almost eclipsed Bayern Munich for a rare Bundesliga title, Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool were quick to acquire midfielder Naby Keita. They even gave the 24-year-old the club’s most iconic jersey – a certain Steven Gerrard-numbered 8.

Perhaps, Liverpool’s crop of midfielders does not really rival the likes of Manchester City and United’s. And the need for a highly energetic and creative midfield forced Jurgen Klopp to spend handsome money on players like Fabinho and Keita.  

Keita arrived at Liverpool nine months after his initial signing in the summer of 2017. Liverpool fans were already celebrating the Guinean’s arrival after his heroics in the Bundesliga.

But Keita has been rather underwhelming this season. Klopp has often deployed a midfield trio of Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum and James Milner in most games, with Fabinho making ins and outs.

Jurgen Klopp
Jurgen Klopp

Even Xherdan Shaqiri has been trusted in midfield for a few home games as it is difficult for him to breakthrough the deadly front-three of Salah, Mane and Firmino.

However, Keita has remained a peripheral figure at Anfield with only 12 Premier League appearances under his belt, 9 of which are as a substitute. He is yet to score for the club and has only managed one assist this season.

The midfielder has been under-pressure from fans and media recently with reports linking him with a move away from Merseyside after just one season.

Jurgen Klopp has commented on the ongoing rumours stating, “There is still a lot to come because he is still adapting. Sometimes it takes longer, that’s how it is. People lose patience, that’s normal – but we don’t. For a young boy, he made a big move from Leipzig to Liverpool; he wants to do it right”, said the German.

With Liverpool desperate to win their first Premier League title of the modern era, it does not seem like an ideal time for Klopp to rotate and revolve his team around. The Guinean might need a big performance in a crucial game to catch his manager’s eye.

With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also returning from injury soon, Keita could well be pushed down the pecking order. And a move away from Anfield could definitely be a prospect come summer.

Naby Keita