Interest in taking Naby Keita away from Liverpool is significant, and what will determine whether he leaves and paves the way for a midfield overhaul has been revealed.
The Guinea international, 27, remains an enigma to many Liverpool fans. Keita’s underlying statistics are excellent, though when he’s needed most, rarely seems to be available.
The central midfielder’s time at Anfield has been riddled with injuries ever since arriving from RB Leipzig. He cost £52.75m in 2018, though it’s hard to argue he’s justified the price tag.
Yet at 27, Keita should be in the prime of his career and if his long-term future remains in red, Liverpool could eventually benefit from what looks like a suspect transfer at present.
Regarding his future, Keita has entered the final year of his contract.
Liverpool reportedly opened dialogue over an extension back in July. Sky Sports Germany later reported the player had broken off contact on August 17 amid unhappiness at his situation at the club.
However, Football Insider recently claimed negotiations are back underway and described them as ‘progressing well’.
Keita’s future will no doubt have a major influence on Liverpool’s midfield plans going forward.
Bellingham available for less than expected
They’re heavily linked with Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham. A Sun report detailed one way in which Bellingham can be signed for just £83m – some way below the £130m price tag touted last week.
However, with James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both out of contract in 2023, multiple high profile midfielders could be targeted if Keita leaves too.
John Barnes recently detailed two superstars his former club should sign aside from Bellingham. If Keita refuses to pen fresh terms and is therefore sold in January, a widescale midfield revamp would make sense.
Now, transfer guru Fabrizio Romano has shed light on Keita’s situation at Liverpool.
Klopp to get ultimatum
Via Caught Offside, the trusted transfer guru claimed there’s a “lot of interest” in signing Keita, though reaffirmed contract extension talks are the order of the day.
He also detailed an ultimatum Keita will give Klopp that’ll determine his fate once and for all.
“There are ongoing contacts between Naby Keita’s camp and Liverpool to decide about the future,” said Romano.
“There’s been a lot of interest around him for a long time but no official bids.
“Talks with Liverpool will continue. Keita wants to understand how important he’ll be for Klopp in the future before making his final decision.”
Should Liverpool keep Keita?
Keita’s grand total of minutes played this season stands at just five.
That brief cameo came in the Community Shield, with Keita sidelined for every other fixture with a hamstring injury.
Injuries have ravaged his time at the club, limiting him to just 117 appearances in four-plus years on Merseyside. For reference, captain Jordan Henderson has 175 appearances in that same timespan.
Keita’s reported demand he be assured of being a regular starter is one only Jurgen Klopp knows whether he can satisfy.
His strongest midfield three at present is arguably Fabinho flanked by Thiago Alcantara and Henderson. If a player the calibre of Bellingham were added, Keita would drop down to fifth-choice at best.
As such, and given his injury woes are unlikely to ease as he gets older, it makes little sense to tie him down to a long-term deal.
What’s more, if the interest in him is as fervent as Romano states, Liverpool may be able to recoup a decent fee in January.
Should that scenario unfold, the Reds would have no choice but to spend big on at least one new midfielder.