LIVERPOOL, England — Jurgen Klopp said Naby Keita is still adjusting to life at Liverpool and vowed that there is much more to come from the midfielder.
Keita has been an unused substitute for Liverpool’s past three games and struggled to recapture his impressive form from the start of the season.
But with Liverpool set to make changes for Monday’s third-round FA Cup tie at Wolverhampton Wanderers, the 23-year-old could be given another opportunity to display the talents that led to Klopp waiting 12 months for his arrival from RB Leipzig.
“It was not an injury, no,” Klopp said. “It’s just how it is sometimes. I spoke to Naby. Everything is fine. I am completely happy with Naby.
“But could he be a bit more confident in the games? Yes. Is he exactly the player in his best time at Leipzig? No. He is still adapting, that’s how it is.
“Everyone saw at the beginning of the season how brilliant he played. Tottenham was a fantastic game from him, without thinking too much.
“We made a change around the PSG game, I don’t know when exactly, and the boys have to deal with it. A little injury here, a little injury there, and it was kind of a little setback.
“But he is a fantastic player and I am really happy to have him here. It is so good and I am looking forward to our common future.
“You see it every day, wow, there is so much to come and there is so much influence he can have on each game. That is all good.
“There was no reason, just other boys were in a good shape as well, a bit was positioning, the system, all that stuff, and that’s how football decisions are. There is really no doubt about the boy, he is an outstanding player.”
Meanwhile, Klopp admitted he may have to think outside of the box with his centre-back selections for the trip to Wolves.
With Joe Gomez and Joel Matip remaining sidelined with injuries, Virgil van Dijk and Dejan Lovren are the only two senior centre-backs in his squad currently available for selection.
The Liverpool manager is considering whether to name highly-rated 16-year-old Ki-Jana Hoever in his squad, with sources also telling ESPN FC that academy defender Conor Masterson trained at Melwood on Friday.
“We need to be creative or we play the two again. We will see what we do,” Klopp said. “We will not sign a centre-half for one game or whatever, that will not happen.
“Joe and Joel look good, but obviously not good enough for Monday and probably not for Brighton. Hopefully, after that, they are in full team training.”