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Official: Naby Keïta Signs for Werder Bremen on Free Transfer

Injuries kept Keïta from ever delivering on his promise with Liverpool and the player now returns to the Bundesliga.

FC Red Bull Salzburg v FC Liverpool - Friendly Match Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Sometimes, in sport as in life, things simply don’t work out. Things go wrong; unexpected complications prove insurmountable. No matter how sure something might appear to be on paper, the reality simply won’t always measure up.

Such is the case for Liverpool and Naby Keïta. Liverpool paid more than £50M to sign the Guinean international from RB Leipzig in 2017 and allowed him to stay another season with the German club such was their desire to bring him to Anfield.

Now, six years later, he returns to Germany, joining Werder Bremen on a free transfer having failed to meet the sky-high expectations he arrived with on Merseyside. In total, he spent five years with the Reds and made 129 appearances.

On paper, Keïta rated out as the most exciting young midfield talent in Germany when he joined Liverpool, equally good at progression and creation as he was at screening and destroying, with a massive engine and tactical nous.

He seemed a can’t miss superstar in the making, and his adoption of the eight at Liverpool—the first player to take on the number following the departure of Steven Gerrard—seemed more than fitting. Then it all somehow went wrong.

Even in retrospect it’s not entirely clear why, though it’s probably safe to say that injuries were at the core of it. Even when Keïta managed to stay fit, though, the player often struggled to make a consistent impact for Liverpool.

For every game showing the great promise on display at Leipzig, there would be an anonymous outing with Keïta appearing the weak point in the middle. And then there were the injuries; a seemingly unending series of fitness setbacks.

If everything had gone to plan, Keïta would’ve been the man to anchor the Reds’ midfield as players like Jordan Henderson and James Milner moved further into their 30s. Instead, Jürgen Klopp was left with a prime age gap in his core.

Now 28 years of age and approaching the end of what should have been his prime years, hopefully Keïta can rediscover something of his pre-Liverpool form and fitness back in the Bundesliga with a new challenge at mid-table Bremen.

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