Liverpool news: ‘Shy’ £52m star misunderstood Klopp’s tactics due to lack of effort to learn English

Jason Soutar
Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita looks dejected after missing a shot

Naby Keita ‘could have been more proactive’ in learning English, which played a part in his underwhelming spell at Liverpool, according to a report.

Liverpool spent £52million to sign Keita from RB Leipzig in July 2018.

There were high hopes for the Guinean midfielder when he joined having also attracted interest from Barcelona and Bayern Munich during a wonderful spell with Leipzig.

Keita has arguably ended up being the only big-money signing Jurgen Klopp has made that has not worked out, however. Darwin Nunez should not be written off yet, by the way.

He has only played eight times in the Premier League this season and will leave Liverpool when his contract expires next month.

The 28-year-old’s time at Anfield has been massively hindered by injuries, though this was never a problem for him during his time in Germany.

Some players simply struggle to adapt to the physicality of the Premier League, and that has certainly been the case with Keita.

READ MORE: Liverpool signings from Bundesliga ranked as transfer chief Schmadtke targets German market

A brilliant article from The Athletic has dug deep into where it has gone wrong for the former Leipzig midfielder, with his poor English cited as a significant factor.

Injuries are a large focus here, with ‘plenty of sympathy at Liverpool’ with Keita’s career in England ‘blighted’ by a number of setbacks

Having only missed ten of 68 games in the Bundesliga at Leipzig, six of which were through suspension, the ‘dramatic change’ in fortunes is attributed to ‘the challenge of adjusting to greater intensity and physicality than he was used to both in training and matches’.

Keita’s technical ability has never been in doubt, but as a ‘shy, laidback character’, it has not been easy for him to ‘come out of his shell’, with the 2022 summer exit of his best pal, Sadio Mane, not doing him any favours.

The language barrier was a ‘recurring problem’ for Keita. The report gives an amusing example of his lack of understanding of the English language.

The report states: ‘In early 2020, Mane was having breakfast with Keita at Melwood when one of the staff came over to inform the midfielder they were going to step up his rehab that morning with a light jog around the training field. Much to Mane’s amusement, Keita replied: “Yeah, yeah, I like eggs.”’

It is said that Keita’s younger brother, who moved with him to Formby, essentially ‘looked after him’, though ‘there’s a sense that he could have been more proactive in terms of making that process easier, especially when it came to learning English’.

His poor grasp of the language has had a negative effect on how he takes in tactical instructions from Klopp and Reds assistant boss Pep Lijnders.

The report adds that Liverpool discussed a new contract last year, but he will depart at the end of this season having won a Champions League, Premier League title, FA Cup and Carabao Cup.

READ MORE: Who will win the Premier League next year? Liverpool and Arsenal level in 23/24 odds