Liverpool’s No. 8 Naby Keita enjoyed a promising, but at times frustrating, first season at Anfield—but believes Jurgen Klopp will improve him next year.
The Guinean midfielder is fighting to be fit for his international side’s participation at the Africa Cup of Nations, after ending the Reds’ campaign injured.
An untimely exit against Barcelona meant he played no part in the Champions League final, but before that setback, Keita had been in his best form of the season.
That came after a spell out the team which might have been seen as a downturn, but which every new player under Jurgen Klopp has gone through as they adapt to the demands of the team.
Keita says his manager is brilliant with the individuals in the squad and it’s the boss who will ensure the midfielder shows his best form next year, while also explaining the differences between his own role at Anfield and that which he was used to at former club RB Leipzig.
“Klopp knows how to treat players and help them, he always talks with everyone on and off the pitch and helps them to improve,” Keita told Goal.com. “He can make you give all that you have and more on the pitch.
“People can see how he improved [Mo] Salah and [Sadio] Mane and I hope he can do the same with me next season.
“I was a playmaker in Leipzig. I took the ball with more freedom to do what I want, playing the ball to strikers and wingers to assist or get in front of goal and score.
“At Liverpool, we have more attacking players like Salah, Mane and [Roberto] Firmino who boast great scoring numbers.”
Keita might have had an up-and-down time of things with regards to his form, but there’s no doubt that when on his game, he was a difference-maker for the Reds.
A run of goals toward the end of the campaign showcased his worth in the final third, while there were also exciting glimpses of his ability to carry the ball and play defence-splitting passes throughout 2018/19.
Naby explained that a transitional year was to be expected to an extent, but next year will be all about going for the biggest of titles with the now-European champions.
“My first year was about adapting with the team and to the Premier League. There are big differences between football in Germany and England and also between Leipzig and Liverpool, in my duties and the way of playing. I hope things will be even better next year.
“We won Champions league for the first time since 2005 and were competing for Premier League until the last match, so of course it was good for the team and for me to be part of this in my first season.
“Like I said before, I was adapting with the team and to football in England, so I hope I can help my team more by winning Premier League next season.”
There will be fierce competition for places in midfield for the Reds next term, with everybody finally back fit, and that should only promote even more impressive and consistent performances from the likes of Keita, Gini Wijnaldum, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jordan Henderson.