Pep Lijnders blown away by ace that rejected Barcelona and Bayern Munich to join Liverpool for £48million

Naby Keita will be handed fresh Liverpool terms as his contract with the club is set to expire in 2023 as he approaches full fitness.

Writing in his training camp diary for the club’s official website, assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders provided insight into Naby Keita’s amazing technical ability.

UNSPECIFIED, AUSTRIA - JULY 19:(THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Naby Keita of Liverpool during a training session on July 19, 2021 in UNSPECIFIED, Austria. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED, AUSTRIA – JULY 19:(THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Naby Keita of Liverpool during a training session on July 19, 2021 in UNSPECIFIED, Austria. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

As part of the club’s aim to increase squad morale, a team quiz was held as well as some activity rounds and he says Keita was the highlight.

Lijnders wrote: “As well as question rounds, we also had some activity rounds – and I have to say, the highlight was Naby doing about 50 keepy-ups with a tennis ball… in his flip-flops.

“That was just crazy!”

According to Goal’s Neil Jones, with Keita’s terms set to expire in 2023, the club is ready to offer him a new contract.

This might seem odd to some given that he has barely been able to contribute in his three years at the club due to injury.

KIRKBY, ENGLAND - MARCH 09: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Naby Keita of Liverpool during a training session at AXA Training Centre on March 9, 2021 in Kirkby, England.
KIRKBY, ENGLAND – MARCH 09: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Naby Keita of Liverpool during a training session at AXA Training Centre on March 9, 2021 in Kirkby, England. (Photo by Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Since joining Liverpool for £48m, he has suffered a myriad of injuries and while he seems to have no issues with performances, being fit enough to play remains his biggest problem.

All that said, Keita has been fit since February and is currently in peak condition heading into the new season.

A new midfielder might be on the club’s transfer list but if Keita can remain fit and reach the levels that prompted Liverpool to buy him, Jurgen Klopp will have serious selection headaches this season.

Upon joining the club, Keita was asked about rejecting interest from Barcelona and Bayern Munich and he replied: “It’s true to say that there were other teams involved like the ones you mentioned. But a big part of my decision was the role of the coach.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 26: Naby Keita of Liverpool celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 1-0 during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Huddersfield Town at Anfield on April 26, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – APRIL 26: Naby Keita of Liverpool celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 1-0 during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Huddersfield Town at Anfield on April 26, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

I wrote last week that I’d like to see Keita start in the first game of the season vs Norwich City as he will have had more pre-season than the like of Thiago, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho.

Anfield Central reported exclusively in January that Liverpool had assigned the midfielder his very own private physio that would stay with him at his home and work on ensuring that any time he felt discomfort, they could stretch the muscle out, ice a sore joint or even tell the coaching staff that he needed to limit his workload.

Additionally, with his live-in chef already cooking for him, Liverpool told him to cut back on the amount of red meat he was eating to limit inflammation and aid recovery.

KIRKBY, ENGLAND - APRIL 28:(THE SUN OIUT. THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Naby Keita of Liverpool during a training session at AXA Training Centre on April 28, 2021
KIRKBY, ENGLAND – APRIL 28:(THE SUN OIUT. THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Naby Keita of Liverpool during a training session at AXA Training Centre on April 28, 2021 in Kirkby, England. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Since these measures were implemented, Keita hasn’t suffered a single injury and has been in the best physical condition of his Liverpool career.

Fitness is only part of his recent battles and now, with the Guinean at pre-season since the 12th of July, Keita will need to work hard to prove to Klopp that he should be in contention to start the first Premier League game of the season.

Michael Mongie
Football Central Media Group founder, owner and editor.

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