RB Leipzig manager Ralph Hasenhuttl says prospective Liverpool signing Naby Keita has lost some of the consistency that made him a Bundesliga star last season.
Keita proved to be a sensation in 2016-17 as the Red Bull Arena outfit finished second in their debut German top-flight campaign, scoring eight goals and providing seven assists in 31 appearances.
The 22-year-old's remarkable displays attracted immense interest from Liverpool, and he will head to Anfield in the summer after the English side triggered his £48 million release clause in August .
Keita remains a pivotal player for Leipzig as they look to replicate their runners-up finish this time around, scoring three times and setting up a further two in the league so far.
However, his coach has noticed a difference in his performances this term and hopes to see him back to his best in the coming weeks, but he insisted he will not be too harsh on the Guinea international.
"Naby is not as consistent this year as last year," Hasenhuttl told Sport Bild . "It's important that he brings his expectations back to normal levels.
"I'm not one who wants to motivate with fear. I don't immediately get the whip out in the classic sense and I don't kick the players non-stop."
Leipzig are also hoping to see another star return to action in the shape of Emil Forsberg.
The Swedish winger was a key creative outlet last term, notching 19 assists in the league last term. However, injury has kept the 26-year-old out of action since early-December, but he is back in training and Hasenhuttl hopes to have him available again soon.
"I see light at the end of the tunnel," he added.
"We mustn't forget that he has not trained for nine weeks. It will take some time, and we have to be careful not to overburden him again."
Leipzig currently sit third in the Bundesliga, level on points with Bayer Leverkusen but 18 behind leaders Bayern Munich.
Hasenhuttl's side host seventh placed Augsburg in their next game on Friday.