Liverpool

Liverpool

Premier League • England

‘Maybe that’s over now’ – Klopp backs Liverpool star for bright future and puts pair in ‘best’ bracket

Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool v Watford April 2022

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hopes that Naby Keita is over his persistent injury issues and has backed the midfielder for a “bright future”.

The Guinea international signed a deal with Liverpool in 2017, while staying at RB Leipzig for the 2017/18 season. And despite impressing in the opening Premier League game of the next campaign, he has struggled for consistency.

In fact, the only consistency which largely stands out is with niggling muscle injury issues. However, when he has played, Keita has performed well with his counter-pressing attributes and ability to change defence into attack.

Keita has indeed featured in all of Liverpool‘s last five games following a knee issue he picked up on international duty in March.

And Klopp has declared that, alongside Thiago Alcantara – who arrived from Bayern Munich in 2020 – Liverpool plucked the two best midfielders from the German top flight.

“When Naby could get some rhythm, he was always really good,” the manager told a press conference. “Unfortunately, he could not get as much rhythm as he and we wished in the past.

“Maybe that’s over now and the future’s bright for him. He’s a great player, wow.

“Naby has been here three or four years, Keita and Thiago [Alcantara] were the best midfielders in the Bundesliga by a distance.

“So if we took first Naby and then Thiago, it was obviously a good idea.”

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Keita has made three starts in the past five games. Two of those saw him play the full match and 88 minutes of the respective Champions League quarter-final ties against Benfica.

The 27-year-old also paired excellently with Thiago against Manchester City in last Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final.

The Spaniard is another who has overcome injury struggles at Liverpool. He made an impressive start before missing over three months with a knee problem.

This season, he has been a vital part of Klopp‘s midfield and put in a fantastic display in Tuesday’s 4-0 win over Manchester United.

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“Yeah it’s great [Thiago’s influence], but I don’t like talking too much about one player too much,” Klopp said.

“When we do that, we get told ‘Thiago feels something a little bit here’. So yeah, it was good. Let’s carry on.”

Pressed on early criticism from Thiago from some pundits that the Spaniard slows Liverpool’s high-intensity play down, Klopp rejected the notion.

“People were questioning if he suits our football? Thank God these people don’t make decisions. If a player is calming a game down in moments due to a lot of reasons, it’s nothing.

“Thiago wanted to join us and he knew how we played. He knew he would fit in and we knew it as well.”

Klopp was speaking ahead of Sunday’s Merseyside derby with Everton at Anfield.