‘Big personality’ Keita should thrive at Liverpool – Xabi Alonso

Steven Gerrard Naby Keita Liverpool gfx
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The midfielder has taken on the number eight shirt previously worn by Steven Gerrard and has been backed to be a success at Anfield

Naby Keita has the right mindset to be a success under Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, according to former club favourite Xabi Alonso.

The 23-year-old officially joins Liverpool on Sunday after initially agreeing the move from RB Leipzig last summer when the Reds triggered his £48 million release clause.

The Guinea captain has been a mainstay for Leipzig since joining from RB Salzburg in 2016, with his consistently high-level performances seeing him considered one of the most talented young midfielders in the world.

Fellow midfielder Alonso, who retired from playing in 2017, is full of praise for the new Liverpool signing and is confident he will make an impact at Anfield.

“He’s a big personality,” Alonso, who came up against Keita twice during his final season at Bayern Munich, told Liverpool’s official website. “He has the hunger, the will to compete, and after in football terms he’s an all-round midfielder.

“[He’s] Good with the ball, he runs and dribbles very quickly with the ball, but he also likes to make things tick in the midfield.”

Keita will wear the number eight shirt for Liverpool and, while taking over the mantle of Steven Gerrard is a tough task for any player, Alonso sees the new boy as someone capable of flourishing in that position.

Though Keita primarily views himself as a defensive midfielder, Alonso sees his best position as a number eight playing just behind the attackers, but feels he is capable of doing well in a number of positions.

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Alonso added: “I think for this position in front of the holding midfielder, or even as a holding midfielder [or] close to the front three, he can have that role to find the space and to be up there. So [he’s a] good signing.

“He will have to adapt to the idea [of Klopp’s philosophy], but I don’t think that he will have many problems because he’s a great player and very complete.

“[Under] Jurgen you need to do [play like] ‘bang, bang, bang’ and if he gets it, he will do well. [I see him as] An eight. I would say an eight, sometimes he can play as a six, but I could see him more as an eight behind the three strikers.”