Naby Keita looked some player in Germany whilst playing for RB Leipzig.
As a central midfielder, he scored 17 goals and provided 15 assists for Die Rotenbullen in 71 appearances. With him in the side, they finished second in the division during the 2016/17 season, which is the still their highest finish in their history in the top flight – they were only formed in 2009, to be fair.
The big fat Liverpool quiz of 2019 – how much do you remember about the last year at Anfield?
He was snapped up by Liverpool in 2017, but remained with Leipzig for another 12 months before joining in 2018. When he arrived, there was hope that he could become an important member of the team.
Unfortunately, he has been unable to settle at Anfield. Across 18 months so far, he has just 47 appearances in all competitions, of which just 31 have been starts. This doesn’t mean he has been totally out of the action, but you would expect more from a player that was purchased for £48m – which at the time was a club-record fee.
During that period, he has scored six goals and provided just two assists. To be fair, three of those strikes have come in his last six games, as well as one assist, which indicates that he is returning to something close to his best.
It may therefore seem bizarre to suggest that now would be the best time to move him on, but the timing actually couldn’t be better. Whilst the £37.8m-valued Guinea international – as per Transfermarkt – has talent, his injury record is a huge problem.
The 24-year-old, who is once again currently on the sidelines with a muscle injury, has already been forced out of the action with at least five issues since moving to the north-west. All of these have been small niggling injuries, meaning he has missed no more than seven matches at a time, but that is perhaps an even bigger problem than a long-term issue. One big injury can keep you out for a long time, yes, but small problems often persist, just like they have done for Keita.
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His recent form indicates that he has the talent, but unfortunately, he will never be able to fully reproduce it due to the fact that he is so often unavailable. Keita represents a huge investment, and the Reds would probably like to recoup some of that large fee, but the longer they leave it, the worse his injury reputation will get. It would be cruel to move him on just as he begins to settle in, but that is the nature of the footballing world. The club must always come first.