Naby Keïta needs to play with more confidence, says Klopp
Liverpool manager believes £52.25m Guinean signing can recapture his form
Liverpool’s Naby Keïta battles for possession with Marcus Rashford of Manchester United during their Premier League match at Anfield on December 16th. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
The Guinea international midfielder is expected to start at Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup third round today when Klopp will make several changes following an intense festive period. The expensive summer recruit has not featured since the 2-0 win at Molineux on December 21st, when the 23-year-old was substituted due to injury, although he was fit for the matches against Newcastle, Arsenal and Manchester City.
Keïta has made 10 starts in all competitions for Liverpool this season and, though minor injuries have hindered his impact on Klopp’s team, the manager admits tactics and form have also limited the player’s opportunities.
“It was not an injury, no, it’s just how it is sometimes,” said the Liverpool manager on the midfielder’s recent absence. “I spoke to Naby. Everything is fine. I am completely happy with Naby, but could he be a bit more confident in the games? Yes. Is he exactly the player in his best time at Leipzig? No. He is still adapting, that’s how it is.
There is really no doubt about the boy, he is an outstanding player
“Everyone saw at the beginning of the season how brilliant he played. Tottenham was a fantastic game from him. We made a change around the PSG game, I don’t know when exactly, and the boys have to deal with it. A little injury here, a little injury there, and it was kind of a little setback, but he is a fantastic player and I am really happy to have him here. It is so good and I am looking forward to our common future. You see it every day, wow, there is so much to come and there is so much influence he can have on each game. That is all good.
“There was no reason, just other boys were in a good shape as well, a bit was positioning, the system, all that stuff, and that’s how football decisions are. There is really no doubt about the boy, he is an outstanding player.”
Simon Mignolet will start in goal against Wolves, and Klopp is considering a role for his Dutch 16-year-old Ki-Jana Hoever with his defensive options limited by injuries to Joe Gomez and Joël Matip. The injured pair are not expected back in full training until after Saturday’s visit to Brighton. Fabinho could move from central midfield into defence should Klopp decide to rest Virgil van Dijk or Dejan Lovren.
“We need to be creative or we play the two again,” said Klopp on his central defensive selection. “We will see what we do. We will not sign a centre-half for one game or whatever, that will not happen. Joe and Joël look good but obviously not good enough for Monday, and probably not for Brighton. Hopefully after that they are in full team training.”