English Premiership

Keita's ability has never been in question, says Klopp

2019-12-09 10:00
Naby Keita
Naby Keita (Getty Images)

London - Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says he has never doubted the quality of midfielder Naby Keita despite the Guinea international's limited impact since his arrival at Anfield last year.

Keita has been confined to a bit-part role since his £52.75 million move from RB Leipzig in July 2018 and before Saturday had played just 14 minutes of Premier League football this season.

But the 24-year-old, whose Anfield career has been disrupted by injuries, gave a reminder of his ability with a goal and an assist on his first top-flight start of the campaign in Saturday's 3-0 win at Bournemouth.

Klopp, who has reassured Keita about his lack of first-team opportunities, admits the relentless form of his league leaders and a series of tight matches have made it difficult to give him minutes.

"Naby had injuries, the team is in really good shape, so then do you change?," said Klopp.

"We are not flying, it's not like we won all of the games 4-0, or 5-0, so we had to bring on a player who helps us with defending set-pieces.

"Then Naby is sitting outside thinking, 'why don't I play?' I get all that. So we stayed in contact, we talked and we spoke a lot about it."

Klopp said he never questioned the player's quality.

"It was just unlucky and in life you need luck always," he said. "He started (his Liverpool career) really well - everybody forgot that - then got injured. And again we had two really good seasons."

Liverpool last lost a league game in early January but despite an eight-point lead over second-placed Leicester, Klopp is not getting carried away.

"I don't know if it's so special because we don't think about it," he said of the unbeaten run.

"We get confronted with our winning streak always after the game, that's the only moment. From that moment on, nobody thinks about it."

Klopp believes resting and rotating his players will be key to successfully negotiating a hectic December schedule, during which they are competing in multiple competitions.

"It was wonderful - maybe the best thing of the (Bournemouth) game - we didn't have to use Sadio Mane," said the German boss, whose team must avoid defeat against Salzburg on Tuesday to guarantee reaching the Champions League knockout stages."

 

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Fixtures
Saturday, 18 January 2020
Watford v Tottenham Hotspur, Vicarage Road 14:30
Norwich City v AFC Bournemouth, Carrow Road 17:00
Arsenal v Sheffield United, Emirates Stadium 17:00
Manchester City v Crystal Palace, Etihad Stadium 17:00
West Ham United v Everton, London Stadium 17:00
Southampton v Wolverhampton Wanderers, St. Mary's Stadium 17:00
Brighton & Hove Albion v Aston Villa, The American Express Community Stadium 17:00
Newcastle United v Chelsea, St. James' Park 19:30
Sunday, 19 January 2020
Burnley v Leicester City, Turf Moor 16:00
Liverpool v Manchester United, Anfield 18:30
Tuesday, 21 January 2020
Sheffield United v Manchester City, Bramall Lane 21:30
Everton v Newcastle United, Goodison Park 21:30
Crystal Palace v Southampton, Selhurst Park 21:30
Aston Villa v Watford, Villa Park 21:30
AFC Bournemouth v Brighton & Hove Albion, Vitality Stadium 21:30
Chelsea v Arsenal, Stamford Bridge 22:15
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