Naby Keita is someone “you have to take special care of”, with the midfielder described as a “sensitive” guy by a former teammate.
It wouldn’t be amiss to say that Liverpool have yet to see the best of Keita in a red shirt, with injury having prevented the No. 8 from stringing together appearances in the XI.
With three years under his belt at Anfield, Keita has made a total of 76 appearances and only 16 of them came in 2020/21, amounting to 714 minutes, due to another enforced spell in the treatment room.
The talent is clear, but he is a figure who “has to feel completely comfortable” to perform according to former RB Leipzig teammate Willi Orban, who Keita played alongside 56 times.
“Naby is a very sensitive guy who has to feel completely comfortable in his environment in order to perform well,” Orban told Goal.
“You have to take special care of him, talk to him a lot. He needed breaks from time to time when he was with us.
“The Premier League is certainly even more demanding in this regard.”
It’s an interesting insight into Keita, who Jurgen Klopp insisted before season’s end that the No. 8’s “long-term future, from my point of view, is here.”
Klopp’s words show a level of patience that is clearly important for Keita, but the question is how long it will last as all parties look to realise his potential.
A summer break away from the constant demands of football may prove key having not been called up to represent Guinea after the season due to a fitness issue.
The 26-year-old will have enjoyed a near eight-week break before Liverpool start their pre-season preparations on July 12 and the hope will be that Keita can get stuck in from the off.