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Naby Keita Substitution Due to “Tactical Reasons”

The Guinean lasted just 42 minutes before being replaced by Thiago.

Real Madrid v Liverpool FC - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Leg One Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

It was definitely not a good night at the office for Naby Keita. The Guinean’s inclusion in the starting line-up was a surprise, since this was only his second start of 2021. Jürgen Klopp’s pre-match comments that he “couldn’t avoid” Keita’s performances in training any longer were encouraging but ultimately, it was a gamble that failed to paid off. Klopp was keen to take the pressure off the Guinean in his post-game comments:

Yes, it was tactical, it was tactical. And this is one of the things you don’t like to do in the job. It’s like the one player is responsible for the performance of the first half. Naby was not responsible for that.

He didn’t play for a while, especially not from the start, we were not good in the game, Naby was not good in the game but if we all saw the game and I am honest, I could have made a few more changes to be honest.

So it was not about Naby, but I did it and I am now not happy about it because we talk about it like it is all Naby’s responsibility, it is not. But it was tactical, that is it.

Despite the boss’ reassurances... it’s hard to not think that the end of the road for Naby Keita’s Liverpool FC stint is imminent. Keita’s previous absences have always been bookended by flashes of brilliance and the all-out action he displayed at Leipzig, but it’s becoming rarer with each injury layoff. With Ox, Jones, Shaqiri and whatever summer reinforcements waiting in the wings, last night’s lackluster performance in a high-stakes game may have just been the final nail in the coffin..

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