Jurgen Klopp says he does not know how good new boy Naby Keita could be in the future – but he knows how good he is at this present moment.
That is according to journalist David Lynch, who claims that Klopp and the rest of his coaching staff at Liverpool knew exactly who they had gotten from RB Leipzig by the player’s fifth day at Melwood.
Keita signed a deal to join the Reds last summer but remained in the Bundesliga with Leipzig for 12 months before heading to Anfield, and his presence there couldn’t be more welcome.
The Guinean made his Premier League debut for the side against West Ham on Sunday and was instrumental as they strode to a 4-0 victory. Following the match, Klopp claimed he wasn’t surprised.
“I’m pleased, absolutely, but actually that’s what we expected,” he told reporters. And Lynch has explained why.
“Keita did not do anything unexpected for the simple reason that, given the groundwork that preceded his arrival at Anfield, the club’s coaching staff know all about the midfielder’s unique talents,” he wrote in the Evening Standard.
“They knew as much by Keita’s fifth day at Melwood, when Klopp introduced his new signing to the four-sided training games that have been a feature of pre-season since his arrival.
“The bizarre exercise sees players tightly packed into a square pitch and needing to complete six passes before scoring in one of four nets, with the emphasis on close control, passing under pressure and winning the ball back as quickly as possible.
“And within minutes of kick-off, the Guinean had proven to his new team-mates and excited staff huddled pitchside that he possessed each of those skills in abundance. Clearly, they were dealing with a special player.”
Keita’s arrival could leave Klopp with a selection headache for the rest of the season. But as long as he keeps this up, he’ll be starting every game.