From one ex-Liverpool midfielder to Anfield’s new number 8, Xabi Alonso delivers the kudos to Naby Keita. The incoming Guinean spent the last two seasons in the Bundesliga with RB Leipzig where Alonso had the opportunity to witness Keita’s potential while playing for Bayern Munich. Spoiler alert: Alonso was impressed.
“He’s a big personality,” said Alonso. “He has the hunger, the will to compete, and in football terms he’s an all-round midfielder.
”[He’s] good with the ball, he runs and dribbles very quickly with the ball, but he also likes to make things tick in the midfield.
“I think for this position in front of the holding midfielder, or even as a holding midfielder [or] close to the front three, he can have that role to find the space and to be up there. So, good signing.”
As a expert on Keita’s various compilation videos, I can attest to the all-roundness of his football game. Keita is an all-action player and appears well-suited to Jürgen Klopp’s high-intensity approach. But Naby doesn’t quite know about all the running in training yet. He’s been told about it. He’s heard the stories. But how much running could it be, he asks himself. A lot, Naby. A lot of running it could be.
“He will have to adapt to the idea [of Klopp’s philosophy],” Alonso said, “but I don’t think that he will have many problems because he’s a great player and very complete.
“[Under] Jurgen you need to [play like] ‘bang, bang, bang’ and if he gets it, he will do well.”
The bang, bang, bang requires skill and intelligence on the pitch. But the underlying philosophy is that of understanding. This Liverpool side works when the players understand one another’s instinct and motivations, when they understand what it is to play together as a team, and when they understand they have the ability to win any match they play. Keita has all the talent necessary for Klopp and will learn the rest quickly when Liverpool’s preseason preparations officially kick off.