Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk is desperate for Naby Keita to avoid another injury-interrupted season in 2020-21 and prove to the Premier League he is “world class”.
Keita, 25, joined the Reds from RB Leipzig in 2018 after earning rave reviews for the German side and their sister club Salzburg, where he spent two years until 2016.
In Germany, Keita marked himself out as one of the most promising midfielders in Europe – his ability on the ball and knack for scoring or creating goals seeing him attract interest from many of the world’s biggest clubs.
Liverpool stole a march by securing his transfer – reportedly worth up to £54million – almost a year early, so sure were they in his abilities, but his first two seasons in the Premier League have been impacted by injuries.
His form since the season’s resumption after the coronavirus hiatus has given cause for optimism, however, with the Guinea international setting up goals against Aston Villa and Brighton and Hove Albion, and scoring in the 5-3 win over Chelsea.
Van Dijk is thrilled to see Keita shining on the pitch and hopes the midfielder’s fitness issues vanish next term.
“I’m just very happy for Naby,” Van Dijk told Liverpool’s official website. “Naby is a fantastic guy, he works so hard and he is an outstanding football player.
“We see it week in and week out. He has unfortunately been unlucky with some injuries, but hopefully he can stay fully fit for the next season.
“I think he is world class, if I’m absolutely honest. I see all the moments when he has the ball, the smart moves, the smart intelligence.
“It’s just incredible to see and I’m very happy for him.”
Keita featured 18 times in Liverpool’s successful 2019-20 Premier League campaign, seven fewer than he managed the season before.