Midfield duo must step up for Reds, says Molby

Liverpool new boys Fabinho (above) and Naby Keita have not managed to earn a regular place in the starting line-up despite a combined £90 million (S$161 million) price tag.
Liverpool new boys Fabinho (above) and Naby Keita have not managed to earn a regular place in the starting line-up despite a combined £90 million (S$161 million) price tag.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • They cost a combined £90 million (S$161 million) and were supposed to strengthen Liverpool's midfield this season, but Fabinho and Naby Keita have not really lived up to their price tags.

Neither have been able to nail down a place in the starting XI. Former Monaco star Fabinho is still adapting to the rigours of the Premier League while the Guinean Keita, signed from RB Leipzig, has struggled with injuries.

In the club's hour of need at Red Star Belgrade on Tuesday, manager Jurgen Klopp left them on the bench for the full 90 minutes as they were shocked 2-0 in the Champions League in the Serbian capital.

They will hope to get back to winning ways against bottom side Fulham in the Premier League today, with former Reds midfielder Jan Molby saying it is time for the summer signings to step up.

"How you improve as a team is by bringing in players better than those already at the club," he wrote in his Liverpool Echo column.

"Liverpool sought to do that in the summer by signing Fabinho and Naby Keita to strengthen the midfield.

"We thought they would be better than what we already have and offer something different.

"They might still be. But, so far, they haven't proven to be the difference we wanted.

"If anything, we look a lesser team than last year, especially in midfield. That's disappointing.

"The only way we can improve the current squad is by the new signings stepping up."

Much has been expected of Fabinho, who was expected to fill the hole left by the departures of Emre Can and Lucas Leiva.

While he has put in positive performances against lesser opponents such as Red Star (4-0 on Oct 24) and Cardiff City (4-1 on Oct 27), he has struggled in starts against Chelsea and Arsenal.

"I'm not totally settled just yet," the 25-year-old Brazilian admitted to the Express.

"I'm still trying to adapt, but I believe I'm now used to the football style, especially when it comes to the intensity of the game which is really different from the league that I came from."

"I'm now playing more regularly, which is also important. I'm on the right track to completely adapting to England."

LIVERPOOL V FULHAM

Singtel TV Ch102 & StarHub Ch227, tomorrow, 8pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2018, with the headline 'Midfield duo must step up for Reds, says Molby'. Print Edition | Subscribe