Liverpool flop got compared to Gerrard when he signed, now he’s a liability

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The 2022/23 season was one to forget for Liverpool as they officially missed out on a place in the Champions League for the first time in seven years, resulting in a major summer overhaul for Jurgen Klopp and his team.

Who left Liverpool in the transfer window?

A disappointing campaign ended with some of Liverpool’s star players of the Jurgen Klopp era departing, with Jordan Henderson, Roberto Firmino and Fabinho all leaving for the Saudi Pro League.

Veteran James Milner made the switch to fellow Europa League side Brighton & Hove Albion, whilst Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita moved abroad to Besiktas and Werder Bremen respectively.

While the majority that left the club did so with a respectable legacy, that can’t really be said for the Guinean midfielder, Naby Keita.

When did Naby Keita join Liverpool?

In August 2017, Liverpool announced they had agreed a club-record £48m fee with RB Leipzig to sign Keita.

The move was arranged so that then-22-year-old would join the club the next summer, in July 2018.

The midfielder was one of Jurgen Klopp’s primary targets to bring to Anfield, and although Leipzig were initially reluctant to sell their man, Liverpool eventually paid the release clause in his contract.

Liverpool's Naby Keita with manager Juergen Klopp before coming on as a substitute

According to The Times, Keita was earning a weekly wage along the lines of £120k-per-week, making him one of Liverpool’s highest-paid players at the time.

Despite it being a heavy investment, many argued it was justified as Keita was quickly establishing himself as one of the next stars in European football.

What was the reaction when Naby Keita joined Liverpool?

The reaction among the fanbase was certainly positive following the signing, especially on social media.

One Twitter user wrote: “Naby Keita could be an even more significant signing [than] Mo Salah. That’s why we should be unbelievably excited by his arrival.”

He even earned comparisons to club legend Steven Gerrard from none other than former Reds boss, Gerard Houllier.

Houllier watched Keita during his spell at Istres in the lower leagues of France, saying: “Like when I watched Gerrard; he was everywhere.”

However positive the fanbase may have been, they would quickly be hit by the reality of the signing, which certainly wasn’t as hoped.

What happened to Naby Keita at Liverpool?

Keita might have shown signs of the player he could be at Anfield, but his reputation at the club was unfortunately tarnished by his consistent injury issues and poor availability.

In his first season alone, he spent a total of 89 days out injured and missed a total of 15 games in all competitions. This was, unfortunately, a sign of what the future held for Keita and Liverpool.

Over the next four seasons, Keita would miss an astonishing 107 games due to injury troubles alone, much to the frustration of Klopp and his side.

Although his frequent fitness problems didn’t help his case much, Keita never really managed to stand out even when he was available and would often find himself being utilised as more of a rotation player, rather than the standout player he was signed to be.

Of his 84 Premier League appearances for Liverpool, Keita only managed a full 90 minutes on just 12 occasions, being substituted on or off the majority of the time, via Transfermarkt.

In a total of 129 appearances in all competitions for the club, the midfielder only managed 11 goals and 7 assists, which averages at one goal contribution every 7 games over his five-year spell – very underwhelming, especially when compared to his record in Germany where he scored 20 goals with 11 assists in only 81 games for Leipzig, which averaged at a goal contribution every two games.





























Stats from TransferMarkt

A more in-depth look at his statistics doesn’t do the Guinean international any favours either.

His time in the English top-flight saw him average barely over 0.1 big chances created per game – or one every nine games, while his completed tackle success rate sat at just 47.2%, per the Premier League’s official website.

From being an instant fan-favourite before even kicking a ball for the club, as the years went by fans also grew irritated with Keita’s inconsistencies and while there were some memorable moments, such as netting the fastest goal in Liverpool history after only 15 seconds in April 2019, the negatives seemingly outweighed the positives of his transfer.

In October 2021, journalist Josh Williams described Keita as a “terrible liability,” which more or less sums up his spell as a Liverpool player.

Then by January 2023, Football Insider reported that Keita would not be signing a new contract at the club and would leave as a free agent in June.

He concluded his time in Merseyside by making 13 appearances in his final season but did not score or assist any goals.

Where is Naby Keita now?

Despite his disappointing season, Keita didn’t have to wait long to find a new club.

On June 9th, it was announced he would be returning to the German league, this time with Werder Bremen.

The 28-year-old has reportedly taken a major cut in his salary to make the move happen, with respected Sky Sports Germany journalist Florian Plettenberg reporting his new contract is worth €2.5m-per-year, which works out at around £41k-per-week.

Werder Bremen find themselves currently 11th in the Bundesliga after three games played, winning one and losing two going into the international break this September.

Keita, however, is still yet to make his debut for the German side, having suffered yet another injury during a pre-season warm-up in July, which the club stated will leave him out of action for “several weeks,” though an exact return date is currently unknown.

The upcoming months could be a huge chance for Keita to get fit and potentially regain the form he enjoyed in his previous spell in the Bundesliga.

With the Africa Cup of Nations taking place in the early months of 2024, the midfielder will hope to feature in his fourth consecutive tournament, with his native Guinea already having secured qualification for this winter’s competition in the Ivory Coast.

Guinea's Naby Keita looks dejected after the match

Overall, while there were no doubts Keita was certainly a talented individual who at times showed glimpses of class, his move to Liverpool will be looked back on with disappointment for both parties and just goes to show that even managers like Jurgen Klopp get it wrong sometimes, albeit rarely.

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