By Daniel Moxon – @dmoxon_
It’s frustrating to see Naby Keita’s playing time restricted, especially considering his strong recent showings when he has been on the pitch.
After a slow start to his career on Merseyside, dominant performances against West Ham and Bournemouth in February had appeared to be the turning point – the catalyst for the Guinean to hold down a regular starting berth within Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Since then, however, he has found himself an unused substitute during underwhelming goalless draws at Old Trafford and Goodison Park, and earned a mere six minutes during the Anfield demolition of Watford.
It is clear to see that, although the manager will no doubt be fully aware of his player’s ability, the German doesn’t yet trust him enough to be his go-to man for a regular spot in the midfield.
It is no secret that Klopp demands a lot of him players, and Keita can take comfort from the fact that he is not the only high-profile name to have struggled to win the gaffer’s favour early on.
Robert Lewandowski has been one of Europe’s deadliest marksmen for a number of years now, and first shot to prominence with a spell under Klopp at Borussia Dortmund.
In an interview with BBC Sport, however, he has spoken of his struggles during his early career in North Rhine-Westphalia, and of how he had to go the extra mile to meet the boss’ expectations.
He said: “I remember the first six months at Dortmund, the training was very hard under Jurgen Klopp. I was very young and wanted to show everyone I could do it 110% in every training session.
“After two or three months, I was very tired and could not show all my skills. It was too much for me and I needed three months lighter training to get back to form.
“When I think about it now, I learned a lot. After the first few months my body was ready to work harder. Around November I scored a lot of goals and my team-mates said ‘Robert is back’, and I knew then I could show all my skills.”
The Pole, of course, went on to be one of the best players in Europe despite his tough start to life under Jurgen Klopp – here’s hoping that the manager’s methods can mould Keita into a superstar also.