Jurgen Klopp has insisted that Naby Keita's long-term future is at Liverpool, despite a difficult 2020-21 season for the Guinean.
Keita has failed to lock down a regular role at Anfield since moving from RB Leipzig in 2018, and this season has seen him used sparingly by Klopp.
The 26-year-old has made just nine total starts all season for the Reds, leading to questions over his future with the club.
What was said?
“It’s a lot of things in this year, it was really tricky," Klopp told reporters. We had to change so often and then in the moment you try to go for stability, it’s really like this and that’s what we need.
“You can see now for example, Man Utd – I think the last line played nearly the last 20 games together. Then you can make changes everywhere because you have a proper basis. We never had that.
“Then on top of that, then making two or three changes in midfield just doesn’t work out in football. People say, ‘Try it.’ We would try definitely if we could be not only nearly sure that it could work out, but you need stability in a football team.
“Other teams are too good that you just make eight or nine changes. That hit a few players this year. Some of them were of course injured, coming back took a while.
“Naby trains really well in the moment, I have to say. He trains really well, like a lot of other players, and looks really good in training. But this year now we need stability.
“We will make changes from time to time definitely, but it’s not like we pick now seven, eight, nine players to change and say, ‘Maybe we can win it like this.’ The long-term future of Naby Keita, from my point of view, is here, yes.”
Keita was a surprise starter against Real Madrid in Liverpool's Champions League quarter-final first leg on April 6. Klopp's experiment, though, didn't work.
The midfielder was pulled three minutes before half-time as the Reds lost the game 3-1, and would go on to be eliminated after a 0-0 draw in the second leg.
Keita has not seen the field for Liverpool since that match. His last appearance in the Premier League came even earlier than that, in a match against Wolves on March 15.
Keita's contract at Anfield runs through 2023.