Graeme Souness has said Liverpool duo Naby Keita and Fabinho are not an upgrade on the midfielders Jurgen Klopp had at his disposal last season.

Keita and Fabinho joined the Merseysiders in the summer from RB Leipzig and Monaco respectively, but neither player has managed to cement a place in Liverpool’s midfield despite arriving for large fees.

The likes of James Milner, Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson have played more often than the new signings, although Fabinho was handed a rare start in Sunday’s derby victory over Everton.

And Souness, who won five league titles with Liverpool, believes Fabinho and Keita must do more to provide his former side with added options in central midfield.

“It’s very hard to be critical of Liverpool’s form in the Premier League, but they’re not firing on all cylinders,” Souness said, according to Football365.

“I think a lot of the problems come from midfield. I think if you go back to the summer, he (Klopp) signed two midfield players and wanted a third one – Nabil Fekir from Lyon – and I’m not sure if Fabinho and Naby Keita are an upgrade on what he’s already got.”

Liverpool’s midfield competition

Milner has completed more passes (58.31) and created more chances (1.8) per 90 minutes in the Premier League this season than any other Liverpool midfielder.

That perhaps explains why Keita and Fabinho are finding it difficult to start matches. Klopp clearly trusts Milner, who is performing as well as he ever has in his career.

Again per 90 minutes in the Premier League, Fabinho has won more total duels than any other Liverpool midfielder (6.05) – Keita is third (4.08) – but Henderson comes out on top in the tackles won-column (1.78).

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Souness added that none of Liverpool’s midfielders are currently at their best, saying: “Last year, the midfield of James Milner, Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson were winning it early and getting forward early and the three strikers were off raiding and causing havoc.

“Now, it is a little bit more pedestrian, they’re winning it but there’s an extra touch or pass.

“I think they’ve got to get back to that front three as quick as they possibly can and if they can do that, then they’ll be firing on all cylinders. But right now, for me, they’re not where they were last year.

“I think going forward, there are still a few questions about how they play and how the formation works.”

Liverpool clash with Burnley on Wednesday in the Premier League at Turf Moor.

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