Jurgen Klopp says Naby Keita, who is reportedly set to start today vs. Norwich City, is ‘probably’ wanted by ‘everybody’.
The Athletic’s James Pearce, cited by Liverpool news aggregator Anfield Edition, reports that Naby Keita will start this evening against Norwich City.
It’s more than deserved after what Klopp has termed “an exceptional pre-season” in which he looked sharp and fitter than he has in months if not years.
Speaking to the media ahead of the Premier League opener against Norwich, Klopp said: “Naby can make the next step [after] a full pre-season, an exceptional pre-season, so he can make the next step.
“We cannot just ignore that and he’s an outstanding player who everybody wants to sign probably.”
Liverpool signed the Guinean for £52.75m (€62m) in 2018 and while his value will have dipped due to a barrage of injuries, he can still make a success of himself at Anfield if he can retain his newfound fitness.
His presence in Liverpool’s team is exciting from an attacking point of view but I think what goes under the radar is his defensive contribution.
While Keita is blessed with tight control and an ability to manipulate the ball in congested areas, Klopp will how he fights to win the ball back high up the pitch which alleviates pressure on his defence.
That would have been very welcome last season when Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak, two defenders blessed with very much pace, were in the side but even now, Liverpool will reap the rewards of having Keita in the side.
It would be great if the former Leipzig ace could grab an assist or even score a goal to boost his confidence and as we saw when Liverpool won the title in 2020, he’s more than capable of scoring from range.
He showcased that initially in the Bundesliga and fans thought they’d see it more often but now that Keita has remained injury-free for six months, the hope is that he can get back to the form that earned his move to the Premier League in the first place.
With a couple good displays vs. Norwich and Burnley, Keita could give Klopp a major selection headache when Henderson and Thiago are fully fit and ready to start.