£52m Liverpool signing goes AWOL after refusing to sit on bench for title decider

Naby Keita remains Liverpool’s fifth most-expensive signing in history, arriving from RB Leipzig for £52 million back in 2018. 

His time on Merseyside had its ups and downs, with the Guinea captain starting successful FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Club World Cup finals, and he also played his part in the 2019 Champions League victory as well as the 2020 Premier League title win. 

The central midfielder also scored a memorable opening goal in the 5-0 away win against Manchester United in 2021.

However, Keita’s Anfield days will be remembered more for the matches that he missed than the ones he managed to play in. 

The 29-year-old started only 49 Premier League matches in five seasons under Jurgen Klopp and is estimated to have missed at least 70 more when unavailable for selection.

Liverpool let Keita leave for NOTHING

Liverpool were content to let him leave on a free transfer last summer once his contract expired, a development that would have seemed unthinkable when he signed for so much money.

There were no calls from major European teams either, emphasising how far Keita’s star had fallen with modest Werder Bremen stepping forward to sign him. 

However, things have not gone to plan there either where he has started only ONE Bundesliga match all season long and appeared just five times in total. 

Only days after his surprise signing was announced, the club declared that an adductor injury would delay his start to life in Bremen colours. 

He was not seen until September and, three games and 81 minutes later, he was out for another spell on the sidelines

Keita was spotted on the bench for a sequence of matches through the winter but the manager opted not to use him with AFCON on the horizon. 

He came off the bench for two recent matches against Union Berlin and Wolfsburg, playing four minutes and 22 minutes respectively. 

Coach Ole Werner was harsh in his criticism following the Wolfsburg game, calling Keita’s performance “sloppy”

Naby Keita

Football - 2022 / 2023 Emirates FA Cup - Round Three - Replay - Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Liverpool - Molineux - Tuesday 17th January 2023. Naby Keita of Liverpool PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK

There have also been reports in Germany of dissatisfaction with the player’s time-keeping and behaviour, with claims that he has ducked out of club commercial events and turned up late for team meetings.

Keita refuses place on Werder Bremen bench

And now comes the news that Keita refused to sit on the bench for the Bundesliga match against Xabi Alonso's Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday, a move which is going to land him in a lot of trouble. 

"After Naby found out yesterday that he would not be playing from the start, he decided not to get on the bus but to go home,” Bremen’s managing director for sport Clemens Fritz said

“We will talk to him and his agent tomorrow about the consequences and how to proceed."

It’s been an incredible fall from grace for Keita, who could and should have been a mainstay of Klopp’s Liverpool tenure. 

Instead he looks like a spent force before the age of 30 with his future more uncertain than ever. 

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