By Noel Whelan

16th Jun, 2022 | 8:00am

Whelan issues 'spectacular' Naby Keita claim as Liverpool talks open

Noel Whelan has urged Naby Keita to emulate the impact of Thiago Alcantara and Georginio Wijnaldum at Liverpool as he prepares to sign a new deal.

The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, claimed the 27-year-old former RB Leipzig star has been “hit-and-miss” since joining the Merseysiders in 2018.

A Liverpool source told Football Insider on Friday (10 June) that Jurgen Klopp’s side have opened talks with Keita over what would be a fresh long-term contract extension.

His future has previously been in doubt, but it is understood that the Reds have moved to end speculation with a number of sides currently monitoring his situation.

Keita is set to enter the final 12 months of his Anfield contract.

Whelan suggested the Guinea international must find “consistency” in the 2022-23 season.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

“We all expected a lot more from Keita,” he told Football Insider‘s Russell Edge.

“He’s been hit-and-miss. We’ve seen some spectacular performances, but also some average performances.

“He needs to work on his consistency and being a lot more involved in that midfield area. He’s got to command that area like Thiago does and like Wijnaldum did.

“Klopp obviously believes there is a player there and that he is capable of improving, or he wouldn’t be offering him a new contract.

“His aim in the next season has got to be to find that consistency in his game.”

Keita made 40 appearances during the 2021-22 season and started the FA Cup and League Cup finals as Liverpool ended their campaign with a domestic double.

The midfielder joined the Merseysiders for a reported £52.75m in the summer of 2018.

In other news, pundit tips Liverpool to sell Roberto Firmino as £65m deal agreed.