Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has revealed that he had an honest conversation with Naby Keita after his decision to substitute the midfielder against Real Madrid.
Klopp says that Keita accepted the manager’s reasoning without any issuses, explaining that he had to make a change to deal with the threats Real Madrid were posing.
He adds that Keita has played some important games for Liverpool in the past and scored big goals, so his quality was not in question with the substitution.
Speaking to Liverpool’s official website, Klopp offered some insight into his honest conversation with Keita. “Naby showed it [what he can do], not sure very often to the full extent but he showed it. He played important games for us, great games for us, scored important goals for us, that’s all the truth.
“But you ask the question probably because of the early substitution in the last game and that was just a decision I made in that moment.
“We had to sort the game for us and it was difficult to do that without making a change. After the game, yesterday we spoke and everything is OK.
“I explained the decision and he accepted it obviously. So we carry on.”
ANFIELD WATCH VERDICT
Keita was hauled off the pitch after 42 minutes with Real Madrid winning 2-0 thanks to goals from Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio. In his 42 minutes on the pitch, Keita was dribbled past once, dispossessed once and produced one unforced turnover as he struggled to get to grips with Real Madrid’s midfield. Toni Kroos dominated the match for Real, playing two killer passes for their first two goals, with Keita then being sacrificed by Klopp in an attempt to swing the balance of the match.
The decision, ultimately, paid off as Liverpool pulled one goal back in the second-half and only conceded once at their end. This means that Real Madrid won the game 2-0 with Keita on the pitch and the Reds then held them to a 1-1 draw with Thiago Alcantara on the field. Although, it was strange to see Keita go off with three minutes left in the first-half, as Klopp could have made the change at half-time and sparred Keita the embarrassment of being taken off so early.
Keita has accepted Klopp’s reason, though, and it is great to see the German head coach was honest with the midfielder and made sure that he was aware of the decision making process. Hopefully, this will spur Keita on to improve and put in better performances in the coming weeks and months.
I’m a 22-year-old football writer from Lowestoft. I produce, edit, and publish articles for Anfield Watch full-time.