Jurgen Klopp has conceded that Naby Keita is not the same player he was at RB Leipzig on current form.
Keita arrived for a reported £52m in the summer but has struggled for consistent form. That lack of consistency has meant a lack of games and Keita’s confidence appears to have suffered.
Klopp admits things aren’t perfect
“I spoke to Naby and everything is fine,” said Klopp, according to the Liverpool Echo.
“I am completely happy with Naby but could he be a bit more confident in the games? Yes.
“Is he exactly the player in his best time at Leipzig? No. He is still adapting, that’s how it is.
“Everyone saw at the beginning of the season how brilliant he played. Tottenham was a fantastic game from him, without thinking too much.
“We made a change around the PSG game, I don’t know when exactly, and the boys have to deal with it. A little injury here, a little injury there, and it was kind of a little setback but he is a fantastic player and I am really happy to have him here.”
Why hasn’t Keita found form?
Keita certainly hasn’t looked entirely confident in a Red shirt, although there are reasons for that. Still only 23, a lot is being asked of a young player to adapt to a new league in a new country.
But Keita is taking longer to find his form than any other Klopp outfield signing. Two reasons stand out for that. The first is that Keita is looking for games in the most competitive area of Liverpool’s squad.
Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Gini Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Adam Lallana, and Xherdan Shaqiri have all featured in midfield. It is more complicated than that, though.
Keita was initially signed to be the dynamic midfielder in a three – much like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain last season. Things have changed, however.
A desire to play Mohamed Salah centrally, fit Xherdan Shaqiri into the lineup, and Fabinho looking better in a two has reshaped the midfield.
Klopp now has less room in his team for midfielders, let alone all-out box-to-box players. Keita has moved out wide in certain games accordingly, giving him a little more freedom.
Keita hasn’t looked comfortable out there either, as he’s now trying to find form out of position.
Faith in Klopp
It’s a difficult one for Klopp – can he afford to keep forcing Keita into the team when there’s a title challenge happening? It depends entirely on how much he feels he can gain from it.
The player has plenty of talent and so Klopp will likely persist – he paid an enormous amount for him, after all. Patience is key for the fans, that along with the belief that Klopp will eventually find something that works.
That’ll likely involve more positions for Keita and perhaps Klopp picking & choosing his moments to use him.
Klopp has found success with everyone else in the squad – if anyone can help Keita find form, it’s the Liverpool boss.