Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita lasted just 42 minutes in Tuesday’s Champions League clash against Real Madrid before Jurgen Klopp decided to pull him off the pitch.
Rather than substitute the player at half time, the Liverpool manager was so frustrated with the former RB Leipzig star that he pulled him off with three minutes to go of the half.
Although many assumed that the central midfielder may have picked up an injury and simply couldn’t be risked a further three minutes of game time, Klopp later explained that he made the change immediately when he realised the Liverpool player wasn’t up to scratch.
“Yes it was tactical,” said the Liverpool manager after the game. “He was not good in the game, but I could have made a few more changes in that moment.”
The decision to pull Keita off in such a dramatic fashion will undoubtedly anger Liverpool fans, who are still waiting on the Guinea midfielder to live up to expectations placed on him when he arrived at the club for a reported fee of £54 million in 2018.
Indeed, Tuesday’s clash was only Keita’s eighth start of the season in Klopp’s squad and it seems unlikely that the 26-year-old will convince the Anfield boss to pick him again anytime soon.
Could Keita leave Liverpool this summer?
With finances stretched due to the current restrictions put in place due to the pandemic, Liverpool will undoubtedly be looking to sell some back-up players to fund important transfers and it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Kieta move on from Anfield at the end of the season.
According to reports in England, Brendan Rodgers believes Keita could still do a job in the English top flight and may be tempted to try and bring the Guinea international to Leicester City in the summer.
While it’s unlikely that the Foxes will hand over anything like the fee Liverpool paid to sign Kieta, they may be able to land the midfielder with minimum fuss if they put up a respectable offer. Especially if Tuesday night’s performance suggests to Klopp that the midfielder isn’t much use to him in the future.