Premier League • England

Liverpool transfer plan for Naby Keita emerges, as Klopp zones in on second star with contract worry

Naby Keita, Liverpool v Real Madrid May 2022

Liverpool would reportedly allow Naby Keita to leave on a free transfer next summer but will try to resolve his future in the coming weeks and months.

The Guinea midfielder has endured a largely frustrating spell at Anfield since his arrival in 2018. Injuries have largely put paid to any significant rhythm and progress – until last season.

Indeed, his 40 appearances in the 2021/22 campaign is his highest tally in any of his four seasons at Liverpool.

And the turn of the corner has come as he enters the final year of his Liverpool deal. This summer is therefore a crucial one for Keita.

Reports in recent weeks have talked of potential swap deals with Inter and Juventus involving the midfielder and Nicolo Barella and Adrien Rabiot, respectively.

Writing in a Liverpool Q&A session, Liverpool Echo journalist Paul Gorst outlined the latest on Keita’s situation.

“I don’t see Liverpool looking to offload Keita this summer,” Gorst wrote.

“If he doesn’t sign a new contract, it’s likely he’ll leave on a free transfer in the same way Divock Origi and Gini Wijnaldum have, but there’s a long road to travel before that happens. I expect he will sign new terms at some point.”

Gorst added that centre-back Joe Gomez, whose contract expires in 2024, is also in Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s sights.

“For now, I believe the focus is on outgoings and then the futures of Naby Keita and Joe Gomez,” the reporter added.

At his best, Keita has been a driving force in the Liverpool midfield. One of his best performances came away at Manchester United last season, when he scored and assisted in the Reds’ 5-0 win.

However, niggling injuries have largely restricted Keita producing that level consistently.

Liverpool should renew Keita contract

Liverpool player Naby Keita

Keita remains only 27, turning 28 in February. As such, he is just entering his prime having enjoyed less football than a lot of top Premier League midfielders of the same age.

And considering Liverpool’s other midfield options, Keita is one of the youngest in the more senior cohort.

Captain Jordan Henderson recently turned 32, with Thiago Alcantara 32 next April.

Liverpool need to solve glaring problem after Nunez deal

Liverpool have bolstered their front line with Darwin Nunez, but midfield is another urgent priority for Jurgen Klopp to sort out.

Fabinho, meanwhile, is 29 in October, two months after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates the same birthday.

And below those five, there is a big drop in age to the likes of Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho.

Keita therefore deserves a new contract. He has a lot left to give and is only just entering his best years as a professional.