Liverpool are expected to enter talks with Naby Keita over an extension to his contract, but the Guinean is claimed to be in “no hurry” to sign new terms.
Keita has two years left on the deal he signed with the Reds in 2018, and a decision will be made in the near future over whether to offering him an extended stay.
The 26-year-old has shown flashes of brilliance since his arrival from RB Leipzig – most recently a stunning volley against Crystal Palace – but too often injury issues have hampered his momentum.
Having been expected to take up a key starting role upon his protracted switch from Germany, Keita has instead only managed to make 82 appearances in just over three seasons, 51 of which have been starts.
Like Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Divock Origi, the midfielder’s current deal expires in 2023.
With the club not considering offers for Keita with two years left on his contract, it seems likely that they would be looking to tie him down for a longer period – with any sale from now on finding them in a weak position when it comes to negotiations.
According to SportBILD journalist Christian Falk, however, while Liverpool would “like to extend” their association with the No. 8, he won’t sign “if he doesn’t join the [regular starting] team soon.”
“It is true that there was an initial discussion with his management,” Falk said, as reported by Sport Witness.
“Of course, they would like to extend the contract with Keita, but he wants to play for them.
“If he doesn’t join the team soon, there won’t be any further progress in extending his contract.
“He can look at his contract, which runs until 2023 and is in no hurry to extend it, so there has to be some sporting arguments to get him to sign.”
It stands to reason that Keita would seek assurances over his long-term role before putting pen to paper, but, if true, there is a case to argue that he has no leg to stand on in this respect.
When fit, Keita is seen as an important player by Jurgen Klopp – he has, after all, started four of Liverpool’s seven games so far this season – but his fitness is a major caveat.
His most recent start came against Norwich in the League Cup on Tuesday night, during which he was forced off at half-time having suffering an injury catching his foot in the turf.
Bad luck? Perhaps. But these are situations that happen too often for a player who, unfortunately, is not a consistent top-level performer, either.
Hopes remain high for Keita, though, and there have been displays this season that suggest he can be a first-choice starter moving forward.
But whether Liverpool would countenance the demands alleged by Falk is questionable at this point.