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Liverpool are fine as they are but Naby Keita might make them even better

It’s news that will not be welcome at the Etihad, King Power, or anywhere else in the Premier League.

Liverpool may have dropped just two points from 16 league fixtures, but they have the capacity to become even better.

Most have noted how the Reds have often looked below their best at times this season, despite accumulating a lead at the top of the table that may be unassailable.

Clean sheets have been harder to come by than last season and there remains an over reliance on the established front three to create and score the goals.

Truth be told, it’s not much of a problem at all

Getty - Contributor
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Truth be told, it’s not much of a problem at all

The trio of Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum offers intensity and industry but is sometimes found lacking in creativity and creation.

The latter plays in an advanced role for Netherlands and is a frequent scorer at international level but Jurgen Klopp prefers him deeper.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s return from injury has already upped the assist/goal output from midfield and if today’s fixture is anything to go by, Naby Keita could provide further variety.

The Guinea international provided an assist and scored on of his own as Liverpool cruised to a 4-0 win away to Bournemouth.

Impressive

Reuters
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Impressive

Keita has had his own injury troubles to contend with, though he has also struggled for consistency when given a chance to showcase his attributes.

The 24-year-old has only shown glimpses of his considerable ability and has failed to convert the match-winning inspiration of his RB Leipzig days to the Premier League so far.

It’s not uncommon for players to need a season to get accustomed to the demands of the Premier League.

Leroy Sane’s first season in England was an exhibition of promise rather than product, but he has since shown he has what it takes to be a standout player.

Christian Pulisic is another who took some time to adapt after arriving from the Bundelsiga, though the American has taken less time to reach top gear.

Bundesliga to Premier League? Completed it mate

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Bundesliga to Premier League? Completed it mate

Keita displayed his creative attributes against the Cherries with a delicately weighted pass for Mohamed Salah’s goal.

And he showed impressive ambition and directness with a surge into the box for his own goal, benefiting from a clever Salah back heel.

His understanding with the Egyptian will surely count in his favour going forward — anyone who facilitates Salah’s best form is a useful asset for Klopp.

On the same page

Reuters
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On the same page

Fans who have been underwhelmed by Keita since his £53million transfer are justified in their opinion.

Those who feasted on montages of the Guinean expected a midfielder who grabs games by the scruff of the neck a la Steven Gerrard and has a deftness of touch to provide a moment of magic like Philippe Coutinho.

Today’s win may be only the second of third time you could say he has lived up to such expectation.

The worrying thing for Liverpool’s rivals, is that Keita could now string together a sequence of such performances.

Even a series of substitute cameos against tiring defences could prove fruitful.

RB Leipzig remains his peak so far

Getty - Contributor
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RB Leipzig remains his peak so far

There have been suggestions Keita has lacked confidence since signing for Liverpool — it’s undoubtedly a massive step-up from RB Leipzig in terms of history and global reputation.

It’s a tired cliche, but with January on the horizon, a refocused and fully fit Keita could be like a new signing for Liverpool.

With such a buffer at the top of the table, the pressure on the No8 is minimal and is, in theory, the perfect environment for him to flourish.

From Klopp’s perspective, an in-form Keita would be a luxury, not a necessity. 


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