Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita has lauded teammate Fabinho for working hard to earn a starting spot in the squad.
The Brazilian who joined the Reds last summer from French outfit Monaco struggled to play regularly on arrival as he had to battle with the Guinea international as well as Gini Wijnaldum, James Milner and Adam Lallana for a place in the midfield.
The 25-year-old has since become a consistent figure for Jugen Klopp’s men, having played their last 15 games in all competitions.
And the former RB Leipzig player who like Fabinho joined the Reds last summer is impressed with the form of his teammate.
“I’m very happy for him. At the beginning he wasn’t playing much but he worked hard, he never gave up and he was always there for the team. The last match, he put in a great performance,” Keita told club website.
“That’s what we’re here for – to work hard and try to earn our place in the team. Midfield is an area where we have a lot of options, so that means no-one wants to get injured or give up their place. That’s an important thing for the team. When you’re in the team you know already how strong the bench is so you need to give absolutely everything in the game.
“I wasn’t surprised at all by Fabinho’s performance. In training the coach is there for everyone and training is always good. It’s down to us to keep focused and play well in every match.”
However, he has revealed how Senegal international and former teammate at Red Bull Salzburg Sadio Mane has been helping him to rediscover his form.
“All my teammates have always been there for me, but of course I am close to Sadio, he has helped me an awful lot,” he continued.
“He has spoken to me a lot and given me a lot of advice because he is more experienced. I’m someone who likes to respond to a challenge, I never give up or stop trying, even if things were a little bit more difficult at the beginning. I was in and out of the side but I was always with the team because if the team win, we all win together – even if I haven’t played. I have a collective spirit.
“Sadio knows me a bit, we were at Salzburg together and we have now moved to another level. When he went off to play in England, I said to myself: ‘I’m going to play alongside you one day.’ All that has come from hard work and desire.
“Now I’m here, I’m not going to give up trying. I’m going to carry on making the most of the gifts God has given me.”
Keita will hope to be involved when Liverpool take on Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.