Jurgen Klopp admits he has no idea how good Naby Keita can become.
Keita, a £52.75m summer signing from RB Leipzig, followed an encouraging pre-season with a hugely impressive display on his competitive debut in last Sunday’s 4-0 Premier League opening day win at home to West Ham United.
Klopp has been a huge admirer of the 23-year-old and had wanted to bring the midfielder to Liverpool last year before a deal was struck to guarantee his delayed arrival.
And with the expectation levels having already been raised, the Reds boss is reluctant to discuss the potential of the Guinea international.
“Naby, we all have no clue how good he can be,” admitted Klopp. “He’s too young to judge him. What can we say?
“Obviously he learned very quickly already in the last few years, from Austria to Leipzig, now here.
“So he adapts constantly and brings himself to the next level. Adapts to the other players, uses them really well.
“I don’t want to make it too big (a thing), it’s just that I don’t know. If you asked me what his greatest strength was, I couldn’t say it really. It’s not because he’s not long enough here.
“But he’s a very smart footballer.”
Sharp and dynamic, aggressive and creative, it was everything Jurgen Klopp had hoped for from the £53 million ($67m) man. The Liverpool manager tries to hide it, but he’s more excited about the 22-year-old’s arrival than any other. He believes Keita can take his side to the next level – the winning level.
Keita was followed to Anfield by Fabinho this summer as Klopp sought to restructure his midfield following the recent departures of Emre Can and Philippe Coutinho.
But the Reds boss believes the new boys should not detract from the efforts of players already at the club, with both James Milner and Gini Wijnaldum impressing in midfield alongside Keita last weekend.
“We talk about Naby Keita, that’s good, he’s new,” said Klopp. “But James Milner made big steps in the last three years, that’s the truth.
“I don’t want to judge his career but it feels like it’s the best moment of his career.
“Gini Wijnaldum, no-one speaks about him. He came from Newcastle as kind of a number 10 or winger. He can play the ‘6’ and the ‘8’ in the way I don’t know many players can. They don’t talk about him.
“The world is like that. When it’s new it’s fantastic, what you already have (feel like saying) ‘yeah, I’m still here too’.
“We only spoke about these three but Fabinho didn’t play a minute so far and we expect big things from him. Adam Lallana, a long time injured. There’s Xherdan Shaqiri too.
“All these things are good but they need to be good. It’s not that we are surprised. It’s exactly as good as necessary and now we have to make the best of it. That’s exciting but the only thing we can do is work really hard and make the best of it.”