I, too, would have preferred that Naby Keita started his Liverpool career off with a bang. There was an entire season to anticipate his arrival from RB Leipzig and highly-anticipate we did. But the Keita from all the videos I watched when he signed isn’t the same Keita that has been largely absent from Jürgen Klopp’s plans since joining the team.
Recently, we’ve seen more of the Guinean midfielder and he’s largely been effective but not a stand-out player. Both Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabinho also took time to work themselves into the team but both eventually had defining moments on the pitch that have since endeared them to supporters. Keita hasn’t had his moment yet.
Klopp certainly would have hoped for more from Keita by this point in the season but the manager won’t rush to judgement on the player so quickly as some supporters have done. Keita hasn’t been the weak link that some have sought to portray him as. He’s still adapting to the team. And as Klopp suggests in his comments on Friday, Keita may also still be working on communicating with his teammates in a language he’s not greatly familiar with.
What I’m saying is, is there’s factors. And when Klopp was asked about Keita’s improvement in the squad, he was complimentary and, understanding the circumstances of the situation personally, confident in more growth from the player.
“I’m happy so far but still a lot to come,” said Klopp.
”Naby is an outstanding player but he still has to improve; minutes, games, language, all that stuff.
“Everything will be fine, and it is fine so far, but we can really expect a lot more still, that’s how it is.”
Keita needs minutes on the pitch. If he’s going to find any rhythm in the team, he needs to start at West Ham. Somebody has to make way, of course, but Keita should get a chance with consistency. Two consecutive starts might do wonders for the players confidence. And then he’s off and running. (Are we still doing ‘profit’?) Profit.