Peter Crouch and Michael Owen have heaped praise on Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita during BT Sport’s coverage of The Reds’ 2-0 win over RedBull Salzburg – after the midfielder scored two goals in two games.
Keita, 24, opened the scoring for Liverpool on Tuesday as an excellent Sadio Mane run and cross found Keita, who squeezed a header past two defenders on the goalline. Mo Salah scored less than 60 seconds later with an almost impossible finish.
The 33-time Guinea cap has struggled for game time since his £48million (Telegraph) from Leipzig. Last season, he only started 22 matches – only 14 of which came in the Premier League. This season, he has played just 10 times in all competitions.
Former Liverpool strikers Owen and Crouch heaped praise on the importance and influence of Keita, after he scored against former side Salzburg. They think that the player offers something different to Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Crouch: “It was a huge night for him. He has played his way into the team, after Bournemouth. He is a different player to the Milner’s or Fabinho’s – who they missed in the first half. He scored, he was a threat all game with his route into the front three.”
Owen: “They’ve got a nice mixture. Oxlade-Chamberlain can attack and score from long range, but Keita can make late runs, he likes probing and getting into those pockets. It’s not a simple finish, but he does it.”
TBR’s view – Could Keita become first choice at Liverpool?
Liverpool’s style of play means attacking midfielders will struggle to become first choice. Having the solidarity of the likes of Fabinho, James Milner, Jordan Henderson and to some degree, Gini Wijnaldum, allows the full-backs to fly.
Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold thrive because they have the knowledge that their midfielders will cover them. The likes of Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana struggle for game time, as they are not defensive enough.
If Keita can add that defensive rigour to his game, then yes, he is more than capable of breaking into Klopp’s side.