With three starts and one substitute appearance in the first four games since he joined Liverpool, it’s fair to say that Neby Keïta already appears to have earned a regular role in the eyes of manager Jürgen Klopp.
The player, though, knows he’s still got work to do to adjust to a new team and league, and even if he’s played well so far and shown flashes of promise—of the reason he was such a key target for Klopp and Liverpool—he isn’t where he needs to be yet.
“A lot of overseas players come into the Premier League and they take time to integrate,” Keïta told the club’s official website. “So playing in the Premier League can be difficult, but I am very motivated to play here.
“Everybody around me has been very supportive towards me so I am certainly giving everything I can to get settled into the team quickly. Competition for places in midfield is something that can only help the team.”
That competition—the seemingly ageless James Milner and a revived Gini Wijnaldum and captain Jordan Henderson and fellow new signing Fabinho—could make minutes tough to come by at time, but it will also be necessary following the international break.
Starting with Tottenham, the Reds will play seven games in less than a month. That depth and that competition for places will be needed—and Keïta, not just good and showing flashes of promise but at something like his best, will be needed.
As for any specific targets, having scored eight goals in his first season in Germany with RB Leipzig and then nine last year, Keïta target for the current season is to hit double figures—and never mind the little matter of changing leagues.
“First and foremost, I should say that I’m very much a team player and I always think about the team first,” he added. “The Premier League is different and everybody knows it is very tough, but I will do my best to beat my own personal records.
“I’m the kind of person who thinks that if I score eight goals in one season my objective must be to score nine goals in the following season. That’s the kind of mentality I have.”