Why Naby Keita could be key to Liverpool's success
Since his arrival at Anfield, Klopp has been criticized for his gung-ho style of play. Though it won him several trophies at Borussia Dortmund, he has not been able to replicate the success with the Reds. With players like Mane, Coutinho, Firmino and Salah up front, they lack no glitz in the attacking department. Games like the ones against Sevilla, Watford and Tottenham have exposed the lack of stell at the back, however.
While Klopp’s back four is continuously targeted by pundits, it is in the midfield department where the problems originate. The recent history of the Premier League shows that a good defensive midfielder is a priceless asset to any team (from Everton’s Marouane Fellaini in the 2012-13 season to the N’Golo Kante of Leicester and Chelsea). You look at that Liverpool team and the absence of a holding midfielder is something that is holding them back from success.
Though the work rate and the physical presence of players like Wijnaldum, Henderson and Emre Can is not something to be ignored, their eagerness to press high up the pitch often results in a scary situation for the back four wherein there is space to exploit.
Since it is evident that Klopp is not willing to give up his idea of aggressive counter pressing, it seems highly unlikely that he would opt for an out and out defensive midfielder over someone like Henderson.
Though Keita is not technically a defensive midfielder, stats show that he can do well in such a position. This season he has averaged 2.8 successful tackles and 3 interceptions per game (compared to the 2.2 successful tackles and 0.8 interceptions of Henderson).
This shows that his defensive abilities can help ease the pressure on Lovren and Matip.
On the other side of the pitch, he is just as valuable.
He makes 1.5 key passes and completes 3.1 successful dribbles every game and completes 84% of his passes, beating his Liverpool counterparts in all the numbers by miles.
Liverpool can be sure that the Keita will be a worthy addition to their squad. A midfield trio of Henderson/Wijnaldum, Keita and Coutinho will be one to watch out for due to their attacking explosiveness and their defensive stability.
Keita’s versatility can make him a priceless addition to any squad but his ability to press aggressively as well as win the ball from the middle and start quick counter attacks makes him just the player that Klopp needs.