Between injuries and adjusting to a new team and league, it’s probably not unfair to say Naby Keïta’s first season with Liverpool wasn’t quite what anyone was hoping for when the club paid £53M and waited an entire season for his arrival.
There were flashes of promise, though. Moments where the standout player Liverpool believed was worth waiting for shone through. And with Keïta still just 24 years of age, the expectations for him to push on and make an impact in year two remain high.
“My first year was about adapting with the team,” Keïta told Goal ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations. “There are big differences between football in Germany and England and between Leipzig and Liverpool, in my duties and the way of playing.
“I hope things will be even better next year. Klopp knows how to treat players, he always talks with everyone and helps them to improve. People can see how he improved Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane and I hope he can do the same with me next season.”
In Germany, Keïta was one of the most dynamic midfielders not just in the league but in all of football. If he can get back to that level with Liverpool in the Premier League, his fee—and what amounts now to a two-year wait—will have been worth it.
That, then, is the hope—for Keïta to establish himself in England as a dynamic, driving, creative, world class midfielder. And it’s his goal, with the player targeting nothing less than playing a key role in winning the Reds a Premier League title.
“We won Champions league for the first time since 2005 and were competing for Premier League until the last match,” the Guinean international added. “It was good for the team and for me to be part of this in my first season.
”Like I said before, I was adapting with the team and to football in England, so I hope I can help my team more by winning Premier League next season.”