It’s been anything but straightforward for Naby Keita at Liverpool, and an unprecedented injury crisis and his own setbacks has limited his opportunities further.
The No. 8 has made just 16 appearances this season totalling 714 minutes, a tally which is less than Takumi Minamino who joined Southampton on loan in January.
Keita’s own injury woes have played their part this season, and those prior, as has the Reds’ defensive crisis which restricted Jurgen Klopp‘s ability to freely mix up his teamsheet.
It has made finding any rhythm or momentum all but impossible, with his last appearance ending with a substitution in the 42nd minute at Real Madrid – where he has since been an unused substitute in the last five games.
Having struggled to make a lasting impact, debate has raged on over whether to cut the losses as he is to enter the final two years of his deal this summer – but Klopp only sees his future at Anfield.
“Naby trains really well, I have to say. Like a lot of other players, he looks really good in training but this year now we need stability,” Klopp told reporters.
“We will make changes from time to time but it’s not like we can make seven or eight changes and say ‘maybe we can win it like this’.
“The long-term future of Naby Keita, from my point of view, is here.”
Earlier reports stated the Keita is up for the fight to stake a claim for a regular spot in the team and Klopp’s should spur him on to do so.
And he is not the only victim of the defensive crisis, with the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xherdan Shaqiri and Kostas Tsimikas some of those names to have suffered from Klopp’s desire to achieve a resemblance of stability.
“It’s a lot of things this year, was really tricky and we’ve had to change so often. Then you have to try to go for stability and that’s what we needed,” Klopp explained on how he has needed to balance his team.
“For example, Man United‘s last line played, I think, the last 20 games together now and then you can make changes everywhere because you have a proper basis.
“We never had that and then on top of that making two, three changes in midfield just doesn’t work out in football.
“People say ‘try it’, and I would try it, definitely, if it could be nearly sure that it could work out.
“But you need stability in a football team, other teams are just too good to make eight or nine changes.
“That hurt and hit a few players this year. Some of them were injured, coming back, took a while.”