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Keita to miss rest of Premier League season with groin injury

15:45 BST 02/05/2019
Naby Keita - Liverpool
The Guinea star would potentially be fit were the Reds to reach the Champions League final, but it seems he has played his last match of 2018-19

Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita will miss the remainder of the Premier League season after suffering a groin injury against Barcelona on Wednesday.

The Guinea international was substituted midway through the first half at Camp Nou, and Goal understands that unless the Reds now reach the Champions League final, he will play no further part in their campaign.

Given Jurgen Klopp's side find themselves 3-0 down from the first leg of their European semi-final ahead of their meeting with the Blaugrana at Anfield on Tuesday, the chances of Keita making any further appearances in his debut season on Merseyside are very slim.

The former RB Leipzig star's absence comes as a blow to Liverpool, with the 24-year-old having begun to show kind of form that persuaded the club to part with £59 million ($62m) to sign him during the summer of 2017 ahead of his arrival 12 months later.

Despite that transfer fee, Keita struggled to replicate the performances from his time in the Bundesliga and found himself on the bench for much of the first half of the season.

Some reports suggested he could even be sold this summer, but a recent improvement has seen him become a key player in Liverpool's quest for silverware.

Key goals against Southampton, Porto and Huddersfield Town ensured they remained on track to challenge for both the Premier League title and the Champions League.

Klopp has thrown him in from the start in six of the Reds' last seven matches in all competitions, illustrating the growing impact he has had on the side in the closing weeks of the season.

He looks set to end the campaign having made 33 appearances in all competitions, scoring three goals, though he will remain hopeful he can add to that on June 1 in Madrid should his team-mates perform something of a minor miracle against Barca.

It is not expected that the injury will rule him out of this summer's African Cup of Nations, with Guinea kicking-off their tournament against Madagascar on June 22.

In Keita's absence, club captain Jordan Henderson - who came off the bench to replace him in Catalunya - will return to the starting line-up for Saturday's vital trip to Newcastle.

Only a win will realistically keep the Reds in the Premier League title race, with rivals Manchester City - who sit a point ahead of Klopp's men at the summit - hosting Leicester City on Monday in their final home game of the season.

Liverpool then end the campaign at home to Wolves while City go to relegation-threatened Brighton.

Keita's injury will also likely mean a return to the matchday squad for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was left out of the 18 against Barcelona having made his return to the first team for the first time in 12 months when coming off the bench against Huddersfield on Friday.