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Naby Keita is proof that Jürgen Klopp can reap reward for holding Liverpool transfer nerve

By Charles Cornwall

Naby Keita is proof that Jürgen Klopp can reap reward for holding Liverpool transfer nerve

In this week's Blood Red column, Ian Doyle looks at Liverpool's transfer stance around signing a midfielder this summer and the form of Naby Keita last season.

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If Jürgen Klopp thought being on the other side of the world would offer some respite, he was sorely mistaken. Whether it’s Merseyside, Bangkok, Singapore or any place where Liverpool supporters can be found, the question has become pretty much omnipresent.

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So, Jürgen, are the Reds signing another midfielder this summer? Klopp was once again put on the spot at the press conference ahead of Friday’s friendly against Crystal Palace in Singapore. Rather than bat it away, the Liverpool boss instead politely chose to repeat his message from earlier in the week by pointing out that he already had sufficient options in the engine room and wasn’t expecting anyone to ask to leave before the window shuts in six weeks’ time.

“We respect the contracts with our boys as well,” he said. “That means as long as we signed them they get all our support – in training, between the sessions, during the games and between the games.” 

Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both in the last 12 months of their contracts

Klopp has long shown his willingness to extract every second from players who couldn’t or wouldn’t agree new deals – witness Emre Can and Gini Wijnaldum – and with Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both in the last 12 months of their contracts, the Liverpool boss has clearly seen little reason to change that philosophy.

The duo are in contrasting positions, with the Reds keen to agree an extension with Keita but no such move having yet been made – and increasingly unlikely – regards Oxlade-Chamberlain. Klopp, though, has an unshakeable faith in the player. And after an encouraging pre-season, he went on to make 40 appearances last term – the most of any of his four campaigns at Anfield.

The latter, though, has the chance to follow his team-mate in one regard, even if it may be put on hold due to an untimely hamstring injury suffered on Friday against Palace. Many expected never to see Keita again in a Liverpool shirt after he was given the hook before half-time in the Champions League quarter-final defeat at Real Madrid in April 2021, a belief strengthened by the Guinean not featuring again that season.

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