Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has stressed that midfielder Naby Keita is a “long-term project” at the club.
Keita joined Liverpool from RB Leipzig last summer with high hopes but the Guinean has largely underwhelmed in his first season in England despite a promising start.
How good has Keita been as a Red? Five things you need to know…
- Liverpool agreed upon a deal with RB Leipzig to sign Keita for £48 million (plus add-ons) in 2017.
- He didn’t make the move until last summer, where he was handed the number eight shirt, previously worn by club legend Steven Gerrard.
- The midfielder has made 19 Premier League appearances so far this season without scoring, bagging one assist.
- He has started 12 times in the Premier League.
- Although he is yet to establish himself as a guaranteed starter, Klopp believes Keita is still a “wonderful player”.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the club’s Premier League outing at home to Watford on Wednesday, Reds boss Klopp went into detail about the improvements of the club’s summer addition.
Stressing that Keita is a player who possesses “outstanding ability”, Klopp feels it won’t be long before Guinean establishes himself in the starting XI.
Klopp said: “Naby Keita is an outstandingly good player. Sometimes he showed it already, a lot at the start of the season, when everybody was excited.
“Then he had a bit of an injury, language issue, it’s a new club, these things happen.
“It’s a long-term project, I said that. There’s still a lot to come. It doesn’t mean that he hasn’t performed, because he had a lot of wonderful moments, good games.
“He’s a wonderful player. Everything is fine, and will be even more fine.”
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“I like a challenge”
Despite not jumping straight into the Liverpool starting places, Keita has more than showcased his potential ability in the famous red strip with recent performances suggesting that it won’t be long before he is a permanent fixture in the side.
A great performance in Liverpool’s 3-0 victory over Bournemouth showed that a talented player is slowly emerging from the midfielder who believes that he is ready for the challenge to continue improving.
He told Liverpool’s official website: “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.
“It’s a lot faster here. The style of play is a lot more aggressive and the intensity of the game is really high in relation to Germany. That’s fine, I’m now part of it, this is the league I’m playing in. I’m just going to keep working hard.
“Nothing is easy in football, it’s just about the business of working hard. Every game you play you do your best.
“It’s true that when I was in Germany I performed well and played a lot but here I’ve come to a big club, here everyone is capable of doing great things.
“Now it’s down to me to work so I can perform even better in this league. Now I’m here, I’m not going to give up trying.
“I’m here to bring as much as I possibly can to the team and I want to work even harder so I can do even better than people thought I did against Bournemouth.
“I’m going to try to do better and better in the remaining matches, so I can finish the season as well as I possibly can with the team.”