Naby Keita emulated Gerrard growing up, and will now take on his role
Naby Keita represents another new face in the next generation Liverpool regime, and he’s taking a page out of Anfield’s past in his approach at the Premier League club.
When the 23-year-old finally completed his long-awaited move to the Reds in 2018, comparisons to N’Golo Kante quickly arose, a strong compliment for many.
However, for everything that Kante does well, it may actually be unfair to compare Keita to the now-World Cup winner with France.
Keita’s tireless ability to track up and down the pitch, complimented by his incredible skill on the ball and pace make him the ideal box-to-box midfielder, something his new club has been lacking for several years.
“My first mind-set is to defend well and not concede,” Keita told the Telegraph. “As a midfielder, when you have sealed things up at the back, my job is to provide the ammunition for the strikers and forwards, to create opportunities. Also, if I get a chance that comes my way, I want to take it and score. But I am a team player. I think about the team and the group always.”
The Guinea international may be overshadowed at the moment by the likes of the front trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, but it’s hard to imagine Liverpool fans won’t quickly take a liking to their new number 8 given his playing resemblance to to arguably the greatest player in club history.
That player is one Steven Gerrard.
And for Keita, the player that he once emulated as a child has now influenced him into the young star that drove manager Jurgen Klopp towards bringing him in to Anfield.
“When I came here that day I didn’t know Steven would be at Melwood,” says Keita. “It was a surprise to me. It was exciting. He said, ‘Everyone will be here for you, we’re all going to help you develop’.
“I had watched Steven Gerrard growing up as a kid and admired him so that was a special day.
“We used to play in the streets wearing a Liverpool shirt. My dad had a love of Liverpool back then when I was 11 or 12 years old.
“I wanted to be like him. It couldn’t be anyone else. He was always the boss of the team.”