On the whole, Naby Keita’s debut season at Liverpool was a disappointment. Although there were flashes of exciting play, Keita was never able to fully deliver the performances he had at RB Leipzig.
It didn’t help that Keita’s season was start-stop with injuries taking him out of the team. He finished the season on the shelf and barely participated in the Africa Cup of Nations for Guinea.
Keita has now had 12 months to bed-in to the Liverpool side and if his play against Lyon in Liverpool’s final preseason match is anything to go by, the midfielder is set for a breakout season at Anfield.
Naby Keita: Take two
Keita tallied just 67 Fantasy Premier League points last season. The midfielder tallied two goals and an assist in the Premier League failing to reach both his expected goals and expected assists totals.
At RB Leipzig, Keita burst onto the scene in 2016-17 scoring eight goals and tallying seven assists in the Bundesliga. He followed it up with a down season, but still managed six goals and provided five assists. Both seasons saw Keita exceed his xG and xA totals.
Both Premier League goals came within the 18-yard box, an area that Liverpool found most of their goals from in 2018-19.
Long-range shooting was not Keita’s strong point as 15 shots were saved, blocked, or missed the target when taken outside the penalty area. It was a contrast to his second season at RB Leipzig. Four of his six goals came from over 18-yards from goal. Meanwhile, just one of his eight goals during the 2016-17 season was scored outside the penalty area.
So, which Keita will Liverpool get this season? The accurate long-range shooting midfielder, the capable goal scoring and assist providing player, or the inconsistent Keita from last term?
Naby Keita: The best is yet to come
The competition for places in Liverpool’s midfield is incredible. Along with Manchester City, Liverpool have the best midfield in terms of both players and depth.
Keita tallied 67 points in 1,358 minutes of Premier League play in 2018-19. The midfielder accumulated 1,365 minutes fewer than Liverpool’s top FPL scoring midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum. The Dutchman only scored three goals and tallied one assist, but was a part of 18 clean sheets.
Naby Keita is so, so important to us this season. He is the only midfielder we have with a real creative spark in his locker. His form and ability to avoid injury will be crucial.
— Alan Carroll (@sonofanfield1) July 26, 2019
Keita could assume Wijnaldum’s role this season. However, the Dutchman was so important to Liverpool last season, that right now, Keita is second-best to Liverpool’s No. 5.
Keita is just £6 million to start the FPL season, but with no guarantees over his place in the starting XI, managers should stay away for now. That doesn’t mean Keita won’t have a breakout season. Depending on Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI against Manchester City in the FA Community Shield on Sunday, FPL managers may be able to make a decision on whether to draft in Keita or not.
He is a cheap option for now, but that is down to FPL’s uncertainty over his relevance in Liverpool’s starting XI.
FPL managers should keep tabs on Naby Keita this season. He could be midfield breakout star they are waiting for.