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Naby Keïta’s Form Improving at a Key Time for Liverpool

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It’s taken a while, but Keïta finally seems to have settled in—right when Liverpool will need him most.

Liverpool v Porto - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: First Leg Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Two solid performances does not a career make, but after Naby Keïta’s struggles to settle with Liverpool, two solid performances in a row in high pressure situations as the season nears its end and the Reds push for silverware is, at the very least, promising.

Not that his teammates are surprised, though. They say they’ve seen his quality in training day in and day out, and for them it’s only ever been a question of when, not if, the 24-year-old Guinean would begin to show that quality in game situations with Liverpool.

“He’s a fantastic player,” Virgil van Dijk said following Tuesday’s victory over Porto that saw Keïta score winner. “We see it day in, day out. To score two goals in the last two games is very pleasing for him, but very important for all of us. I’m very happy for him.”

He’ll need to show that quality again before the season is done if Liverpool are to have a chance of turning their challenges in the league and Champions League into silverware in either. But he won’t start every game now, even if he’s finally hitting top form.

The most important thing in Keïta’s recent good play for the team’s chances is that it will make it easier for Jürgen Klopp to rest and rotate players during the final stages of a long and draining season—with the next two games looking especially tough.

First—and, for most, most importantly—Liverpool take on Chelsea on Sunday knowing a win is the only acceptable result if they want to keep their title dream alive. Then, two days later, they are in Portugal to play the second leg of their Champions League tie.

After not heavily involved and now starting twice in a row, the safe money might be on Keïta sitting against Chelsea and coming back in against Porto next week. Whatever happens, though, he will be needed—to keep playing and to keep playing well.