Liverpool front line compared to 'raptors' by assistant
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Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita is still learning the game and must improve his defending if he wants a regular place in Jurgen Klopp’s side. That is the opinion of former Liverpool striker Ian Rush, who has given his full appraisal of Keita’s recent performances.
Keita is enjoying a purple patch for Liverpool recently, scoring in their 3-2 win over Atletico Madrid and the 5-0 thrashing of Manchester United.
Those goals mean Keita has now found the net three times this season, as well as contributing one assist in nine matches across all competitions.
The spell adds up to one of Keita’s best periods in a red shirt since he joined the club in 2018 from RB Leipzig for £52.75million.
The 26-year-old has struggled for consistency at Liverpool and has largely failed to live up to his sizeable transfer fee.
Keita has shown his ability going forward in recent weeks, scoring brilliant volleys against Crystal Palace and Atletico, but Rush feels he still has gaps in his game.
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“In last week’s column I challenged Naby Keita to learn from his Atletico Madrid performance and I was pleased with how he reacted at Old Trafford,” Rush wrote for gambling.com.
“He was having a fantastic game before [Paul] Pogba hacked him down and sometimes in football you’ve really got to grasp your chances because you only get so many. If you don’t grab them and prove yourself then you’ll be moved on pretty quick.
“It was interesting to see him start after being brought off at half-time against Atletico but I was impressed with his attitude from the start.
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“Until he went off injured, I thought he was the best player on the pitch along with [Mohamed] Salah.
“It’s great to see him scoring and creating goals, it’s just unfortunate his game ended with injury.
“Reports suggest the injury is not as bad as first feared, which is good because he needs a run of games to build on his momentum.
“He seems to have rediscovered his ability to score goals but the defensive side of his game is what he needs to work on, although he did defend pretty well against United when he had to.
“He’s still learning, so I just hope he can recover quickly and get a run of seven or eight games on the bounce.”
Keita was taken off the Old Trafford pitch on a stretcher following Pogba’s poor challenge, but Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders confirmed this week the injury was not as bad as first thought.
“It’s just a bruise, it could have been much worse if his foot was in the grass,” he said ahead of the 2-0 win over Preston in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday. “We’ll take it day by day, but a bruise is painful of course.”
Keita is a doubt for Liverpool’s next fixture against Brighton on Saturday, when the team will be hoping to maintain their unbeaten record in the Premier League.
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