Liverpool have yet to make a major addition in the transfer market and that could well be the case when the window closes before the start of the new season. Many supporters would be concerned, as teams should build from a position of strength. The Reds won the Champions League and came close to winning their first-ever Premier League title. One or two signings would have assisted in maintaining that momentum. However, there are already one or two at the club who are ready to play a bigger part in the 2019/20 campaign.
Naby Keita arrived to much fanfare, after a prolonged chase from Liverpool, which resulted in a future agreed transfer to Anfield. The Premier League club had to wait months before they could see the midfielder in a Red shirt. Although he has now been at the club for a year, the best is still to come and Jurgen Klopp will see him as an individual to breathe fresh life into his team this season.
During his debut campaign in the Premier League, Keita made 25 appearances, only 16 of which came as a member of the starting eleven. Klopp is known for slowly introducing new signings and it will be hoped that the former RB Leipzig player can explode into the form that he showed in the Bundesliga when the season kicks off next month.
The central midfield is an area that Klopp will want to improve over the coming months. Keita was brought in to add dynamism and tactical flexibility to the squad. During his time in the Bundesliga, the Guinea international emerged as one of the best box-to-box midfielders in the league. In his final year at Leipzig, he averaged 1.6 shots, 1.4 key passes, 2.5 dribbles and 3.7 ball recoveries per game. Meanwhile, he contributed six goals and five assists in the league campaign.
When compared to his debut Premier League season, it’s clear that Keita struggled to have the impact on matches. He averaged 1.1 shots, 0.4 key passes, 1 dribble and 2 ball recoveries per game. The main reason for this was the increased physicality and lack of regular minutes. The 24-year-old was unable to find his form on a consistent basis and his role in the team was changing on a weekly basis. As the season drew to a close, he was starting to have a bigger influence on proceedings. His performances against Cardiff and Huddersfield were especially brilliant.
Keita was criticised at times last season and that is to be expected considering the protracted chase for his signature. However, he is still only 24 and he will be far stronger after a year of Premier League football. Although he didn’t start every game, the experience of working on the training ground with Jurgen Klopp will have had a positive influence. The growth of Andrew Robertson last season highlights how a player can thrive in his second season at Anfield.
This is going to be a huge season for Keita. If he is to be a success at Liverpool, he will need to have a positive season. The 24-year-old can take confidence from the club not signing any more midfield players. With James Milner getting on in age, there is an opportunity to become a regular in the starting eleven. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Guinean central midfielder had a breakout season.