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  • Billy Wooldridge

Is Time Running Out for Liverpool's Midfielder Naby Keita After Another Injury Against Brighton?

It appears that time for Naby Keita is running out at Liverpool after yet another injury. Keita left the pitch in the 19th minute for The Reds in their 2-2 home draw to Brighton on Saturday. Further scans revealed yet another hamstring injury for the Guinea international, with Klopp confirming he will be ‘out for a while.’

Keita signed for Liverpool in June 2018 from RB Leipzig for a fee in the region of £60 million. The Guinea international was known for his power and physicality going forwards, managing 17 goals and 15 assists in 70 Leipzig games. However with only 10 goals in 86 games for The Reds, Keita will have a very tough seven months staying fit and showing Jurgen Klopp why he is still a key man to the German’s squad.

Keita is contracted at Liverpool for another 18 months, the time where most players begin conversations with their club on whether another contract will be given. However it is very unclear within the Liverpool board room as to whether Keita will be given another contract when looking at how many injuries he has had since arriving in Merseyside.

In four years at Salzburg and RB Leipzig, with a combined 152 games, Keita only missed 12 in that time. However after three years at Liverpool with 86 games played, the Guinea international has missed 54 games for The Reds, clearly a number that needs to be considered when discussing a new contract.

When Keita is fit and playing for Liverpool, the right side of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Keita and Mohamed Salah links up perfectly, as seen in the 5-0 thrashing of Manchester United in October. However, when Keita was forced off against Brighton and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin replaced him, it was clear that the side impacted from his loss with Klopp stating that ‘it had an impact, the right side worked really well together with Naby, Trent and Mohamed.’

The lack of goals during Keita’s time at Liverpool have started to reappear in recent weeks with a smashing long range effort against Crystal Palace, before a similar one against Athletic Madrid just prior to the Manchester United demolishment where Keita was able to open the scoring for his side with a sharp run through the middle of the United defence before slotting home.

However, as usual, just as the performances start to up the consistency, another injury for Keita has set back his game time, giving him more time on the sidelines then on the pitch for Liverpool yet again.

Klopp’s list of midfielders for Liverpool is very good on paper, Fabinho, Thiago, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Naby Keita, Harvey Elliot and Curtis Jones. However when you look deeper, all have missed games already this season from various injuries, aside from Oxlade-Chamberlin and Henderson, who have both missed long stretches of matches in the past 12 months.

It is very hard to see the club agreeing to extend the contract of an injury prone Keita when there are many other frequently injured Liverpool players in the same position.

Over the summer it was clear that Keita was being treated very carefully, to prevent more injuries impacting his game, and a very good run of fixtures mirrored the work of the backroom staff as Keita played massive roles in wins over Manchester United, Atletico Madrid, Watford, AC Milan and more.

Nevertheless the hamstring injury over Brighton has shown that no matter how much work is put into the 26-year-olds fitness, he will remain a massive injury doubt for Liverpool.

Keita is without doubt one of Liverpool’s most impactful midfielders, as they remained unbeaten 10 games into the season with him in the side, however his unavailability against Brighton and then West Ham the week after showed the hole he had left as The Reds eventually lost their first game of the season at the London Stadium when David Moyes’s side took all three points with a 3-2 win.

A midfield three of Oxlade-Chamberlin, Fabinho and Henderson failed to break down the defiant West Ham defence throughout the second half, before being caught out on the break as Pablo Fornals netted for The Hammers. Keita was clearly missed at The London Stadium with his power and physicality in the centre of the park, and when he does recover from his injury Liverpool will definitely be able to take a step forward back to their best.

One remaining chance however for Keita is his age. At 26 years old, there is still time for Keita to show that he can still be depended on by Klopp. Maybe he will be giving one last chance and contract, two to three years possibly, to show his class. Because when Keita is fit and firing, Klopp’s men are by far a better team.

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