Naby Keïta is a midfielder who seems to have it all. He can pass, he can dribble, he scores and assists goals, he can win the ball back, and he never seems to stop running. There really doesn’t seem to be a flaw in his game.
Well, apart from one thing. The Guinean picked up four red cards last season. Disciplinary issues may be a question mark. But not in the eyes of Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp.
“We watched [the red card incidents] again, it was just a millisecond late here, too excited there. Young players do that”, the Daily Mail report the German as saying. “It was not that he was overly harsh in his challenges, just that he was too ready to win it. Last year was normal with a few highlights and a few unlucky red cards”.
Talking more broadly about the player, Klopp added that “We wanted him desperately but we accepted the wait [of a year after the transfer was agreed]. We didn’t fight, but he wanted to come immediately. When somebody tells you, “it can happen in a year” nobody in the world likes that message. And so he struggled a bit with that, though not too much. Last year was not his best, the season before was completely next level.
“In the end [midfielders at Liverpool] need to feel comfortable in small spaces. You need to be smart in defending because the space is too big to defend without the brain. You need to see the right distances and stuff like that, you need to be 100% fit because it’s the most demanding position on the pitch.
“Naby, we all have no clue how good he can be. He’s too young to judge him. What can we say? He’s a very smart footballer, very stable. A fantastic overview, that’s true. Sometimes he shoots better, sometimes not that good, depends on the pitch and the ball and the wind and all that stuff.”
If the boss doesn’t think it’s a problem then nor do we. More of the same from the opening game will do just fine, Naby.