Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk heaped praise on teammate Naby Keita, who has struggled to consistently perform for the Anfield side, after their side’s 3-1 victory over Newcastle United. With the win, The Reds sealed the 2019-20 season with 99 points in the Premier League.
Keita, who scored two goals in Liverpool’s last five matches, finished the season with four goals in as many as 26 competitive appearances for The Reds. The 25-year-old central midfielder had an injury-hit season, which is why he played just 17 Premier League matches in the campaign that saw Liverpool lift the trophy after 30 long years.
Keita ensured he ended the season with a bang. He scored in Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Brighton before opening the scoring against Chelsea at Anfield last week. He also played Liverpool’s season finale fixture against Newcastle that saw him on the field for almost 85 minutes.
Speaking after Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Newcastle at St James’ Park on Sunday, July 26, Van Dijk – who was among Liverpool’s goal scorers that game – praised Keita, suggesting his best is yet to come for The Reds.
“I’m just very happy for Naby, he’s a fantastic guy. He works so hard and he’s an outstanding football player, we see it week in, week out. Unfortunately, he’s been unlucky with some injuries, but hopefully, he can stay fully fit next season. I think he’s world-class if I’m absolutely honest. I see the moments where he has the ball, the smart moves, and his intelligence, it’s just incredible to see and I’m very happy for him,” Van Dijk said in an interview.
Keita, who moved from RB Leipzig to Liverpool in the summer of 2018, had a forgetful maiden season with Jurgen Klopp’s side having missed the memorable Champions League final, which Liverpool won by defeating Tottenham in Madrid, due to a groin injury.
While Keita was under fire for his inconsistencies, he is slowly turning the tables around. He even received praise from boss Klopp after he scored in Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Brighton earlier this month.
“He is getting better and better, step by step and game by game and that’s really cool. I am really happy about that. Long may it continue, let me say it like this. When he and the boys stay fit then everything is fine with the quality they have, the way we play suits them,” added Klopp in the post-match interview.