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05th Aug 2017

Liverpool turn to plan B after missing out on Naby Keita

It could be a blessing in disguise


It could be a blessing in disguise.

The situation in regards to Liverpool’s continued pursuit of Naby Keita this summer has been clear for some time. The player himself seems sweet on the deal and would happily swap his current energy drink employers for the glamour of Anfield, but RB Leipzig are insistent that their star midfielder is going nowhere.

Although the whole affair has become tedious in the extreme, as possibly the most frustrating saga of the transfer window, it is easy to see why Jurgen Klopp has thus far refused to give up on the Guinean wonder. There are few midfielders in the modern game that combine the 22-year-old’s technique and skill with ceaseless stamina and box-to-box running.

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But Klopp is nothing if not inventive, and he has had to improvise in the face of Leipzig’s obstinance. Keita has a clause in his current contract which kicks in at the end of this coming season. It will allow him to leave the Bundesliga outfit for a relatively bargain £48m. The Merseyside club may now be forced to bide their time and pick him up in 10 months’ time.

In the meantime, instead of buying a stopgap option, the Reds’ pre-season game versus Athletic Club on Saturday points to an in-house plan B. Klopp has decided to experiment with James Milner in his old position as a central midfielder that could be a masterstroke for the coming season.

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Thus far used as a utility man and latter day wingback by the German, the 31-year-old is more than a mere Jack of all trades. He has previously excelled as a central midfielder, particularly in his final season at Aston Villa when he was touted as a Steven Gerrard style option for the England team.

Jurgen Klopp is widely acknowledged as one of the modern game’s true innovators and Milner’s conversion back to a middle man – for a season at least – could prove to be an inspired move.