Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has revealed that he “explained” his decision to Naby Keita after substituting the player early on against Real Madrid.
The Guinea international was subbed off in the first half after the Reds found themselves 2-0 down against the Spanish side in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
It was Keita’s second European start of the season but the gamble backfired as he was replaced by Thiago Alcantara with Liverpool’s midfield in disarray.
Klopp, though, has said that Keita has accepted the situation after the Liverpool boss had a chat with him after the match.
Klopp told a pre-match press conference ahead of their clash with Aston Villa: “Naby showed [his best], I’m not sure how often to the full extent, but he showed it.
“He played important games for us, great games for us, scored important goals for us, that’s all the truth.
“But you ask probably because of the early substitution in the last game and it was just a decision I made in that moment.
“We had to sort the game for us and it was difficult to do that without making a change.
“Yesterday we spoke and everything is okay, I explained the decision and he accepted it obviously. So now we carry on.”
Following the match against Real Madrid, former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher claimed Keita got “nowhere near” their midfielders.
“That first-half performance I think is one of the worst I have seen under Jurgen Klopp in six years,” Carragher told CBS Sports. “There was nothing there going forward. No intensity. Given chances up. Lucky it was only 2-0.
“What I saw in the second half is what I thought I would see for 90 minutes where it was almost a 50-50 game. Real Madrid were still good in the second half. But Liverpool made a game of it.
“The first half was not acceptable. It was nowhere near good enough. They were miles off it. We talk about the team and the midfield that he picked.
“Naby Keita went into midfield to put pressure on Kroos and Modric and he was nowhere near them. And ends up getting brought off just before half-time.”