Premier League • England

Naby Keita admits addressing Liverpool shortfall is top target, as Jurgen Klopp keeps close eye

Naby Keita, Liverpool v Crystal Palace July 2022

Naby Keita admits he wants to contribute more goals and assists for Liverpool as he embarks on a career-defining campaign under Jurgen Klopp.

The 2022/23 season will be the Guinea midfielder’s fifth season at Anfield, but only the first one where is looking to build on any meaningful momentum.

Indeed, injuries have largely held Keita back from really nailing down a spot in the Reds’ starting 11. He has shown flashes of his talent, but last term was the first spell where he maintained his best rhythm.

His 40 appearances was the most he has achieved in a season for Liverpool so far. Still, he only contributed three goals and one assist in the Premier League.

And two of those direct contributions came in the 5-0 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford in October.

Speaking to the Daily Express, Keita subsequently insisted that he is looking to build on last season’s first real sign of progress – at a time where the one year left on his contract makes his future uncertain.

“Every season, I set myself targets to try to compare and compete with what I’ve done in the previous season,” the midfielder said.

“I always try to achieve even more. Right from when I first started playing, I have always been like that.

“Last season went pretty well – I played in a lot of games, which we won. This season, I would like to do the same again and play in every game I can. “More than anything else, it’s just to help the team out and maybe get on the scoresheet more.”

Keita may get inspiration from the fact that Liverpool play RB Leipzig in pre-season on Thursday. The Reds signed the midfielder from the Bundesliga side for a then-club-record £48million.

Keita looking to impress Liverpool

“I’m made up and really happy to be going back to Germany, particularly Leipzig,” the midfielder said.

“That’s where I really progressed and Liverpool first saw me.

“I’ll be really happy to go back to see my old team-mates. It’s a young team that plays football the right way and in a good spirit. So it’s going to be a great game.”

Liverpool then play RB Salzburg before facing Manchester City in the Community Shield next Saturday.

Reds star needs big season

Keita needs a strong season next term to not only prove he is worth a potential new contract, but to then keep his place in Klopp’s Liverpool plans.

The midfielder’s saving grace this summer is that the Reds do not look like making a senior midfield signing.

Teenage talent Fabio Carvalho has arrived from Fulham, but the expectation is that he will build up his minutes in the first team.

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Nevertheless, talk of a 2023 midfield signing such as Jude Bellingham is growing.

And Keita needs to produce his best season for the Reds next term to keep his place in the side – and drive up the standard of quality and competition.