Keita's current deal at Anfield expires at the end of the season and he will be allowed to enter pre-contract talks with foreign clubs from January 1. As reported by Football Insider, the Reds have already opened talks with the Guinea international regarding a new deal and are confident of keeping him.
However, Whelan has suggested that it won't be a good idea for the Reds to reward the injury-prone midfielder with a new deal.
The former Leeds United attacker has claimed that Liverpool should save Keita's wages and fund a deal for Borussia Dortmund prodigy Bellingham. He told Football Insider:
“Is it worth giving contracts to players who haven’t really been on the pitch very often? He’s been injured a lot – and he’s also had spurts in the side where he’s looked very ordinary.
“He’s not featured at all this year."
Whelan has insisted that losing Keita for free would be a huge blow to the Merseysiders financially, but they should not gamble on his fitness.
The former Middlesbrough attacker has urged Jurgen Klopp to make a move for Bellingham and let Keita depart following his contract expiry. He added:
“I understand they don’t want to lose him on a free, but they could free up a lot of money in wages as well if they let him go."
“That can go towards a Jude Bellingham in the summer. They won’t want to lose a player who they spent a lot of money on – but it’s just hoping. Hoping that when he comes back, he can stay in the team for a prolonged period.”
Does Naby Keita have a future at Liverpool?
Naby Keita has showcased his undisputed quality at Liverpool but has not been able to remain fit for a prolonged period.
Since his move to Anfield in the summer of 2018, he has missed a total of 66 games with injuries.
It is quite natural that he has not been able to become a guaranteed starter in the middle of the park due to his unavailability.
The former RB Leipzig midfielder has played just one game for Liverpool this season. He came off the bench for a five-minute cameo against Manchester City in the FA Community Shield.
He has not even been registered by the Reds in their Champions League squad due to his injury problems.
While it will be a big loss financially for Liverpool to lose Keita on a free having spent £52 million to acquire his services. But handing him a new deal simply does not make sense as they evidently need to bolster their midfield department.