Naby Keita has not travelled with the Liverpool squad to Budapest for tonight’s clash with RB Leipzig despite training on Monday, as a cautious approach is taken.
The Guinean was a welcome sight back at Kirkby on Monday afternoon, with Keita rejoining first-team training after being sidelined since December.
However, he was not part of the group who flew to Hungary later in the day, depriving the No. 8 of a reunion with the club he joined Liverpool from in a £52.75 million deal in 2018.
Keita has been working one-to-one with the club’s new head of recovery and performance Andreas Schlumberger after a hamstring problem added to a list of “too many injuries,” with Klopp explaining the situation to reporters ahead of Tuesday’s tie.
“Naby is no longer injured but he’s not fit yet. He was [back] in training yesterday but he is not ready yet,” he said.
“We will be away for two days and he will be in training; it’s better than flying with us.
“Of course, Naby would have liked to be there when it’s against Leipzig.
“He has had some very great spells but obviously you have to say he has had too many injuries as well, which hasn’t helped a lot.
“But he has played some really great games for us and scored important goals, has contributed to our success last year; he was always involved despite the injuries.”
Keita has played 71 times for Liverpool over the past two-and-a-half seasons, scoring seven goals and laying on four assists, which is a disappointing return on the club’s outlay.
But having only turned 26 earlier this month, there is plenty of time for the midfielder to revive his fortunes on Merseyside, with the hope being that this extended spell of individual training will see him put his problems “behind him.”
“These were unfortunate moments when you look at his injuries, it was just minor things that [ruled] him out from the team,” Klopp continued.
“But he has got an excellent perspective and is a great player.
“In terms of injuries, we all have to go through these difficulties and once that’s behind you, we’ll have another absolutely great player.”
Keita’s situation can be compared to that of Ilkay Gundogan at Man City, with the German in the best form of his career at present following a difficult spell with niggling injuries.
Players can mature at different stages, and fitness problems can blight the progress of those like Keita, with there still being optimism that he can exceed his Leipzig form when he finally finds consistency at Liverpool.