According to TeamTalk, Liverpool have been so unimpressed with Naby Keita’s displays since he linked up with the Reds in the summer that they would be willing to take a £10m loss when sending the Guinean back to the Bundesliga at the end of this season.
The midfielder hasn’t quite had the impact on the pitch that everyone at Anfield was surely expecting of him – he arrived on Merseyside as a creative, hard-working number 8 and looked certain to somewhat fill the void left by Philippe Coutinho – so Jurgen Klopp and co are reportedly willing to cut their losses already.
Having made just 12 Premier League starts this campaign and chalked up a mere one assist, the former RB Leipzig star has far from lived up to his £48m price tag and might not be given a chance to beyond the current season.
Selling the 24-year-old would be a ruthless move by Liverpool, but what would the potential consequences be of them doing so? Read on to find out…
Liverpool made big statement signings last year with the additions of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson – both of whom have been excellent – and they will surely be keen to see more top class players through the door in the coming years to further cement themselves as title contenders.
However, the swift discarding of Keita could be a huge red flag to any potential signings that the club will not give them long to adapt to their new surroundings and will not hasten to sell them on just one year later.
Prior to his arrival on Merseyside, the box-to-box player was regarded as one of the most promising talents in his position, but he is currently at the foot of the pecking order. Will others be fearful that they will be treated with similar ruthlessness should they trade their current surroundings for Anfield?
As we have already touched on, the Reds’ recruitment has been nothing short of exceptional in recent campaigns – more specifically since Michael Edwards was appointed director of football at Anfield – but Keita threatens to be a stain on that.
An example of Edwards’ brilliant work since moving upstairs in November 2016 is the signing of Dominic Solanke for peanuts then his selling on for £19m to Bournemouth shortly after, plus the aforementioned van Dijk and Alisson deals, to name but a few. There’s also Mohamed Salah.
There have been few to no questions asked of the former director of technical performance, but if Liverpool stand to take a loss on Keita, then there will be some to answer. It already looks like Liverpool ended up overpaying for the midfielder.
With moves for Nabil Fekir repeatedly falling through and Klopp unwilling to place all his eggs in Xherdan Shaqiri’s basket, the Reds could be set to lose one of their few creative midfielders if Keita is shown the door.
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The 33-cap international might not have the numbers to back that up but his close control and technical ability are unmatched in the middle of the park at Anfield, with Gini Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson etcetera more concerned with how many kilometres they cover instead.
Keita chalked up 11 goal contributions in the 2017/18 Bundesliga season before finally making the switch to Liverpool so he clearly has the ability to make things happen.
If Liverpool do show him the door, though, then the need for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to return to form as soon as possible will be huge – the former Arsenal man has been out since April 2018, when he damaged cruciate and medial ligaments, but is on the verge of returning to training.
The versatile speedster was sensational for the Reds prior to his injury and in the absence of Keita, he becomes easily Liverpool’s most dynamic and offensive-minded midfielder. Klopp will be hoping he can hit the ground running when he finally gets back on the pitch, but that’s a lot of pressure to place on a player who has been out for almost a whole year.