Liverpool have had to wait 12 months to watch Naby Keita in action – and it looks as though it was worth the wait.
The midfielder eventually cost Jurgen Klopp’s side around £53 million and he certainly impressed in his full debut against West Ham on Sunday.
Keita ran the show in the midfield, contributing to Liverpool’s 4-0 victory to put them top of the Premier League after the first set of matches.
For the few Liverpool fans that were watching the Guinean for the first time, they couldn’t help but be impressed.
But for Klopp, he fully expected that sort of performance from Keita.
“I’m pleased absolutely but that’s what we expected,” Klopp said of Keita’s performance.
Having struck a deal for Keita last summer, the 23-year-old arrived at Melwood at the earliest possible date and has shown his quality in pre-season, while some of his higher-profile teammates were busy at the World Cup.
KEITA ‘EXCITED’ LIVERPOOL STAFF IN TRAINING
And, according to David Lynch in the Evening Standard, it took Keita just five days to prove just how special he really is.
Lynch writes: “They knew as much by Keita’s fifth day at Melwood, when Klopp introduced his new signing to the four-sided training games that have been a feature of pre-season since his arrival.
“The bizarre exercise sees players tightly packed into a square pitch and needing to complete six passes before scoring in one of four nets, with the emphasis on close control, passing under pressure and winning the ball back as quickly as possible.
“And within minutes of kick-off, the Guinean had proven to his new team-mates and excited staff huddled pitchside that he possessed each of those skills in abundance. Clearly, they were dealing with a special player.”
MILNER ON KEITA IN TRAINING
And James Milner might have been referring to that very training drill when he spoke about Keita following his debut against West Ham.
“He’s a good player, he’s only gonna get better,” Milner said.
“I can only imagine how good he’ll be in a few months time. I’ve seen him get out of some ridiculous situations at training.”
It sounds like everyone at the club is very impressed with the start Keita has made at the club. And he’s only going to get better…