GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - Wednesday, July 31, 2019: Liverpool's Naby Keita during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Olympique Lyonnais at Stade de Genève. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool fans should ignore rumours of Naby Keita’s possible exit

Naby Keita has been spuriously linked with a move away from Liverpool in recent days, but supporters should ignore speculation over the No. 8 at this stage.

Keita has certainly struggled to settle since his long-awaited £52.75 million move from RB Leipzig in 2018, making just 51 appearances so far—amounting to 2,767 minutes, averaging 54.3 minutes per game.

By way of comparison, eight players have already clocked more time on the pitch this season alone, with Virgil van Dijk (3,780) accruing the equivalent of 10 full games more.

In that period, the Guinean has scored six goals and laid on two assists, with a direct contribution every 346 minutes; it is the comfortably the worst output he has produced for any club, averaging one every 171 minutes at RB Leipzig.

Injuries have curtailed Keita’s progress at Anfield, which was rarely the case at Istres, Red Bull Salzburg or Leipzig, where he enjoyed status as a first-team regular.

But a suggestion by the Mirror earlier this week that his “future hangs in the balance” is surely wide of the mark, though that did not stop the story being picked up elsewhere.

Leipzig's Naby Keita thanks the fans after the German Bundesliga soccer match between RB Leipzig and Werder Bremen at the Red Bull Arena in Leipzig, Germany, 23 October 2016. PHOTO: Jan Woitas/dpa

Interestingly, however, though various outlets perceived German publication Bild‘s report on the situation as fuel for the rumours, their take was, in fact, dismissive.

Referring back to the Mirror‘s list of players who could leave Liverpool in the next transfer window, Bild discuss the possibility of Keita returning to Leipzig, a club where he holds “cult status.”

They cite a number of reasons why that is unlikely to happen, one being that, at 25, he is “now outside the Leipzig age limit,” and the Bundesliga side rarely sign “ready-made stars.”

Furthermore, they suggest his wages would be a major stumbling block for Leipzig, though the claim that he earns around £210,000 a week at Liverpool is a little farfetched.

And finally they point to his estimated price tag of around £45.7 million, which is reasonable given, if they were to sell, the Reds would be looking to recoup much of the fee they paid two years ago.

But that even Bild, who are often dubious in their stories, could not comfortably link Keita with a straightforward return to his old club is telling.

In a decidedly quiet stage of the campaign—suspended in almost every leading league—speculation over players’ futures can be expected.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 29, 2019: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates with Naby Keita after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

And with Keita’s muted start to life at Liverpool, it would make sense for a largely uninformed Mirror piece to claim he could be on the move.

Klopp, however, has repeatedly stressed his faith in the midfielder, with his fitness issues the biggest factor standing in the way of a regular place in the side—he has started in 65 percent of his appearances for the club.

It seems like a breakout run in the side is always just a few weeks away for Keita, and though patience will likely run thin if his problems continue, there is little to suggest he would be cut after two seasons on Merseyside.

Of course, the cyclical nature of tabloid journalism will no doubt perpetuate the rumours further, with the Mirror already having covered Bild‘s angle on their own ‘report’…