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'I explained and he accepted' - Klopp says Keita is OK after being substituted early in Liverpool loss to Real Madrid

14:17 BST 09/04/2021
Naby Keita Liverpool GFX
The Guinea midfielder lasted just 42 minutes of the Reds' 3-1 defeat in the Champions League quarter-finals this week

Jurgen Klopp has revealed he spoke to Naby Keita to explain his decision to substitute the midfielder during the first half of Liverpool’s Champions League defeat to Real Madrid.

Keita lasted just 42 minutes of the Reds’ 3-1 defeat in the first leg of their quarter-final in the Spanish capital on Tuesday night, with Klopp confirming his call to replace the Guinea international with Thiago Alcantara was a tactical one. His side already trailed 2-0 after a dire start to the game.

Keita has started just nine games in all competitions this season, and may find himself on the bench again when Aston Villa visit Anfield in the Premier League on Saturday.

What’s been said?

Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Friday, Klopp said: “Naby showed it. Not sure if he did it very often to the full extent but he played great games for us, important games, scored important goals. That’s all the truth.

“You are asking the question probably because of the early substitution in the last game. That was just a decision I made in that moment. We had to sort the game for us, and it was difficult to do that without making a change.

“We spoke yesterday and everything is OK. I explained the decision and he accepted it. Now we carry on.”

How has Keita fared at Liverpool?

Signed for a fee of £52.75 million ($72.25m) from RB Leipzig in the summer of 2018, Keita initially settled well. He started regularly until picking up a back injury away to Napoli in the Champions League, struggling to regain his spot for two months afterwards.

He finished his first season having made 33 appearances in all competitions, but missed the conclusion of the campaign, including the Champions League final win over Tottenham, due to another muscle injury.

In 2019-20 he managed just16 starts, only nine of which were in the Premier League, due to a mixture of injury and loss of form.

This season he started the first four league games, but was substituted at half-time of the 7-2 defeat to Aston Villa in October. He returned to the XI for wins over Leicester and Crystal Palace, but missed more than two months of action due to a hamstring injury.

He has been limited to just 16 appearances in all competitions, the last of which ended before the half-time interval in Madrid.

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