When Liverpool announced the signing of Naby Keita last season, fans were no doubt excited. The RB Leipzig man transferred from sister club RB Salzburg and immediately took to the Bundesliga, scoring a goal on his debut.
He followed it up with 7 more goals in the season and this propelled him into the limelight, so much so that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp triggered the player’s release clause and signed him.
Here are three reasons why Keita can prove to be an upgrade to Can if the German leaves Liverpool:
He’s more box-to-box
Emre Can operates better when he’s in an attacking position but the problem with that is Liverpool do not have any cover for their defenders. While Can can play alongside Henderson, his attacking intent has found him wanting defensively on previous occasions and this is the void that Keita can fill up.
Keita is a more traditional box-to-box midfielder (the ones that are hard to find these days) and the lack of this is one of the biggest pain points for Liverpool. When the fullbacks are exposed, the midfielders aren’t able to cover for the defenders and this has led to them leaking goals at the back.
Better attacking mindset
Despite not having his best season, Keita still managed to score 10 goals and assist 7 in a total of 39 games. Keita averages 3.1 dribbles per game with 1.5 key passes. While Liverpool have no problems going forward, this added layer of sheen could propel them to play dizzying, attacking football.
Keita can also push players such as Chamberlain and Wijnaldum when it comes to attacking intent. He is a player with proven credentials and so with more competition, Klopp is only going to receive a better commitment from his players.
Defensively sound as well
Defensively, Keita offers 2.5 tackles and 1.7 interceptions per game despite his natural instinct putting him under the “attacking midfielder” bracket.
Despite this, he has returned stats that are more than valuable and with English football being more compact, Keita could increase these numbers at Liverpool as well.
It won’t be easy for him in his first season but Klopp has the know-how to develop young, talented midfielders to find their potential.
He did it with Gundogan and Sahin at Dortmund and Oxlade-Chamberlain at Liverpool. Keita is a great athlete who needs Klopp to smoothen his rough edges and he can go on to become a club legend if things go right.