After his international manager said that he had appeared “200% fit” in practice and with Guinea’s advancement hopes on the line, Naby Keïta was probably always going to start today against Nigeria at the Africa Cup of Nations.
And start he did, playing 70 minutes in an eventual 1-0 loss for Guinea against the group favourites. However, he looked a long, long way from being 200% fit. In fact, he looked a long, long way from being even 100% fit or anything like it.
Based on the injury timeline outlined by Liverpool, Keïta probably shouldn’t have been even thinking of training until July, and while the hope was that he was simply ahead of schedule, on the evidence of today at least that isn’t the case.
Over the course of his 70 minutes on the pitch, Keïta visibly struggled. Worse, on multiple occasions following tackles he was slow to return to his feet and required treatment. It didn’t make for enjoyable viewing for Liverpool fans.
One imagines it will have been even worse for Liverpool’s coaches and medical staff, and there will be real concerns about the potential for long-term injury issues if Guinea extend their stay at AFCoN and Keïta continues to play.