Written by James Cranford – @jamescranford89
Liverpool’s midfield has come in for severe criticism so far this season, with Wednesday night’s humbling defeat away to Napoli no exception. One player that was due to return from injury to bolster the midfield is Naby Keita. The 27-year-old then picked up a suspiciously-timed injury, right before the defeat at Old Trafford and was subsequently not selected in Jürgen Klopp’s Champions League squad.
The waters surrounding Keita’s injury were muddied this week by the Guinean FA’s announcement that he has been named in their squad to face Algeria and Ivory Coast in two weeks’ time.
On the latest episode of our Journo Insight Show, we asked goal.com’s Neil Jones for his thoughts on the situation.
“They’re not the only club that that’s happened to. Arsenal have got the same issue with Thomas Partey. Ghana have called up Thomas Partey even though he’s injured, that’s going to cause mayhem. ‘I don’t know yet’ is the answer, I have put some calls in this morning – are Liverpool planning to release him for the squad? Is it one of those things where an international manager says, ‘Well, I don’t believe he’s injured; I want to see it myself?’ I think England got into a habit of doing that in the past.
All it does is it brings clouds to the situation. He [Klopp] has been asked about Naby Keita and he’s said ‘Yes, he’s injured.’ Liverpool can’t get away from the fact that it’s weird. Until it’s explained, it’s weird. A story emerges that he’s unhappy and that he might look to leave before the transfer window shuts. Liverpool rubbish that and say he’s going nowhere – which was true. He’s then due to come back into the squad for the Manchester United game, on the Sunday he gets an injury and he’s not in the squad and then he’s not seen since, now he’s in the Guinea squad. Let’s just say he just rocks up and plays for Guinea, you’ve got your answer, haven’t you?”
The plot thickens.
If Naby is fit to represent Guinea on September 23rd, that will mean he was left out of Liverpool’s Champions League squad despite being available for the last four group stage fixtures.
Given that the Champions League squad was announced at a time where the midfield options were severely depleted by injury, the only conclusion would be that there has been a massive breakdown in trust between the player and the club.
This would, therefore, mean it is very likely that our £50m signing leaves for free at the end of the season or for a knock-down price in January.
Keita has both critics and backers, but were the situation described above play out, his time at Anfield would be seen as a failure and the manner of his exit severely reduce the likelihood of any fond goodbyes from fans.
There is still a chance that the Guinean FA have named their captain in the squad as they wish to check the severity of his injury themselves, a move that would harm the relationship with his club as it would be seen as unnecessary.
This is a story that has the eyes of most LFC fans and journalists on it, one that looks like it may not have a positive ending.