Liverpool’s Guinean international midfielder Naby Keita knows that 2019/20 could be one of the defining seasons of his career.
Keita arrived last summer after signing from Bundesliga side RB Leipzig but struggle to get any consistent game-time as he was hampered by injury for large parts of the campaign.
Liverpool’s number 8 does not have a history of being an injury-prone player at any of his previous clubs. Therefore, Reds fans should look forward to seeing much more of the midfielder over the next 9 months or so.
At Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp favours a 4-3-3 formation so Keita will be up against it to become a regular starter in the Liverpool first-team.
Last season, Fabinho became an integral part of the team and, as the only natural defensive midfielder in the squad, he has become somewhat ‘undroppable’ from Klopp’s best eleven.
The Brazilian normally sits at the base of the Liverpool midfield with two roaming players ahead of him. This is where Naby Keita will hope to be.
On Friday night, Norwich City visit Anfield as the Premier League season gets underway. Keita will be looking to make it into Klopp’s starting eleven, possibly alongside Fabinho and Jordan Henderson.
Gini Wijnaldum had a quiet game against Manchester City last Sunday and Keita looked lively during his second-half appearance. Klopp may well pick Keita ahead of Wijnaldum on Friday night.
James Milner is recovering from a minor muscle injury while Xherdan Shaqiri and Adam Lallana are probably best kept as options from the bench for now.
With this set of circumstances, Keita knows he has a great chance of starting against Norwich. If he can replicate or build on the good form he showed between March and May – before an injury at the Camp Nou ended his season – Keita can seize on the opportunity and become one of the regulars on Klopp’s team sheet.
For Klopp, a midfield trio of Fabinho, Henderson and Keita gives The Reds a fantastic amount of energy in the centre of the park. Keita and Henderson both like getting up and down the pitch with both players also capable of key passes or crosses to the front three.
With Fabinho behind them, Henderson and Keita can advance with the knowledge they have a solid, reliable ball-winner ready to break up any potential counter-attacks should their passes be intercepted by the opposition.
Many Reds fans grew frustrated with Keita last season. If he can stay fit for the most part of 2019/20, he will be eager to prove the doubters wrong as soon as possible.
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