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'Keita is a very sensitive guy' - Orban sympathises with former team-mate's struggles at Liverpool

10:39 BST 14/06/2021
Naby Keita Liverpool 2020-21
A man who played alongside the midfielder earlier in his career says he needs "to feel completely comfortable" to reach his full potential

RB Leipzig's Willi Orban says he has not been surprised by Naby Keita's struggles at Liverpool and has described his former team-mate as a "sensitive guy".

Keita completed a £53 million ($75m) move to Liverpool from Leipzig in the summer of 2018, bringing to an end his two-year spell with the German outfit.

The Guinea international arrived at Anfield with a reputation as an all-action midfielder, but has so far been unable to live up to that in the Premier League.

What's been said?

Orban played alongside Keita for two seasons at Red Bull Arena, and says the 26-year-old needs special treatment in order to perform at his best due to his emotional nature.

“Naby is a very sensitive guy who has to feel completely comfortable in his environment in order to perform well," the Leipzig defender told Goal and SPOX. "You have to take special care of him, talk to him a lot. He needed breaks from time to time, when he was with us.

"The Premier League is certainly even more demanding in this regard.”

However, when asked to name the most gifted player he has worked with during his career, Orban added: "Keita with his extraordinary ball control, his dynamism and his finishing. He was just complete."

Keita's record at Liverpool

Keita's struggles for form at Liverpool have been exacerbated by a string of niggling injuries that have forced him to sit out a total of 50 games over the past three years.

The former Leipzig star has only made 76 appearances for the Reds including just 10 in the Premier League last term, and has a modest tally of seven goals and four assists.

Keita has still been a part of one of the most successful Liverpool sides of all time, picking up a league winners' medal, a Champions League crown and a FIFA Club World Cup.

Orban on Upamecano 

Orban went onto discuss how far French defender Dayot Upamecano has come since joining Leipzig from Red Bull Salzburg in 2017.

Upamecano was short on confidence and had problems with the German language in the early stages of his career at Red Bull Arena, but his colleague says he has gradually developed into a leader - earning a big-money move to Bayern Munich in the process.

Orban said ahead of the 22-year-old's departure this summer: “In the beginning he was very cautious, but has now become a bit more open. When he feels comfortable, he talks a lot - also in German.

"In any case, the language is no longer a problem for him. He came as a child with no language skills and leaves as a seasoned man who sometimes gives commands in German during the game.”

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