Kevin Phillips has compared Naby Keita’s situation at Liverpool to that of Tanguy Ndombele’s at Tottenham.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, the former England international defended the 25-year-old from “criticism” and insisted it is very difficult to break into an established midfield at Anfield.

Keita started the Reds final two games of the season and scored a sensational goal in 5-3 win against Chelsea in midweek.

 

There has been a marked improvement in the centre-midfielder’s performances since the restart having been hampered with niggling injuries earlier in the season.

The Guinea international arrived on Merseyside with huge expectations but has failed to consistently justify his £48million price tag.

When asked by Football Insider if next season was make or break for the midfielder, Phillips said: “It is similar to the Ndombele at Tottenham.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

“It has taken him a while to settle and he has come under criticism but Keita is challenging with players that have cemented their place in there over a number of years. That midfield performs week in, week out.

“He scored a worldie the other night and I like him. A very industrious player, gets around the pitch and can score a goal.

“I am sure he now feels more settled. I’m intrigued to see how he kicks on next season.”

Keita’s 27 appearances this season have yielded four goals and three assists.

Ndombele has not started a game for Spurs since he was withdrawn at half-time against Burnley and publicly criticised by Jose Mourinho back in March.

In other Liverpool news, it can be REVEALED that rising star is in advanced talks with the club over a new long-term deal.

PLUS: Subscribe for free to our brilliant new YouTube channel for daily videos, interviews with our top pundits and special guests, and all the latest insight into the club you love.