The Guinean midfielder saw an untimely injury prevent him from gracing the grandest of European stages, but he is back to fitness and eager to impress
Naby Keita admits to being left “rather sad” at being forced to sit out Liverpool’s Champions League triumph in 2018-19, but is back to full fitness and determined to prove his worth.
The Guinean midfielder completed a £53 million ($69m) move to Anfield on the back of a protracted transfer saga.
Having starred in the Bundesliga for RB Leipzig, big things were expected of the 24-year-old in English football.
Struggles for consistency, along with niggling injury problems, have held him back at times and prevented him from making the desired impact.
Keita also missed the opportunity to grace the grandest of European stages after seeing an untimely knock rule him out of a 2-0 victory over Tottenham.
“It was quite hard for me. All players dream of playing in a big final like that and it would have been great for me,” Keita told Liverpool’s official matchday programme of that setback.
“I was rather sad and I can’t say it didn’t affect me.”
Keita is hoping to make amends in 2019-20, with Jurgen Klopp’s side back in the hunt for the Premier League title and further continental glory.
He has made just eight appearances this season, but could step back in now that Fabinho has been ruled out for the foreseeable future and an all-action performer is determined to raise his game.
“I would love to be involved,” Keita added ahead of a home date with Brighton on Saturday.
“My injury put me back a bit but now I feel as though I am back. I’ve been quite pleased with my form but I’d like to do better.
“I feel that, if I get to play in a lot of matches, I can really try to help the team. I try to play every training session as if it were a match and I always try to raise my game.
“I raise my head and hope to be selected to go out there and play and win.”
If he does figure against the Seagulls, Keita will get the chance to set a new Premier League record for having featured in 27 top-flight games without being on the losing side.
He said of that opportunity, with Liverpool looking to be crowned domestic kings for the first time in 30 years: “Well, a record like that can only serve to motivate me more!
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“We’re all here to work for exactly those sort of records and then to surpass them. Hopefully by winning every match those records will come naturally.
“We don’t want to repeat the error – if you can call it an error after getting 97 points – of falling into second place at the last hurdle at the end of the season.
“We want to push for new records right until the end of the season. We want to beat our record. It’s in the club’s thinking to do so.”