Jurgen Klopp call vindicated as Naby Keita's Werder Bremen move goes from bad to worse

Liverpool fans will know just how their Werder Bremen counterparts are feeling right now with club manager Ole Werner confirming that Naby Keita will be missing for the upcoming Bundesliga game against Koln on Friday. 

"Amos Pieper, Milos Veljkovic, Niklas Stark, Naby Keita and Leon Opitz are out. Everyone else is fit,” the Werder boss told the press on Wednesday. 

It has become a worryingly familiar tale for Werder Bremen, who have only managed to get Keita onto the field three times all season. 

He played twice as a substitute, building up to his first and only start against Hoffenheim in October. He only lasted 59 minutes before injury struck and has not been spotted on a Bundesliga pitch since then. 

Keita is only 29 but has seen his stock plummet in the football world over the last few seasons as injuries ravage his career. 

He managed to captain Guinea twice at the recent Africa Cup of Nations but it was telling that his other two appearance at the tournament were cameos from the bench. 

There is no time line on his recovery according to Werner although it appears certain he won’t be with his squad mates this weekend. 

Jurgen Klopp was like a cat who got the cream when he announced Keita’s arrival in August 2017. Although Keita would not formally join until the following summer from RB Leipzig, the Liverpool manager was content to declare: “I've never got so many congratulations messages”.

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At £52m, Keita didn’t come cheap and he remains the fifth-most expensive signing in the club’s history. Ahead of him are only Darwin Nunez, Virgil van Dijk, Dominik Szoboszlai and Alisson Becker. 

But Liverpool bosses were left scratching their heads over why Keita’s transfer didn’t work out. They were content to let him leave on a free last summer once his contract expired, a development that would have seemed unthinkable when he signed. 

It was telling that no heavyweights moved in for the midfielder with Bremen a distinctly unglamorous destination for a man tipped for Barcelona and Bayern Munich before his move to Merseyside. But it was indicative of how far Keita’s star had fallen. 

Unquestionably a supremely talent midfielder on his day and an enduring cult figure at Anfield, injuries blighted Keita's time at Anfield.

He started only 49 Premier League matches in five seasons and is estimated to have missed at least 70 more when unavailable for selection. 

There were also question marks over his adaptation to life in the Premier League. He never settled and he was barely ever fit. 

Werder are finding that out too; the hard way. Although they are reckoned to be paying him less than the £6m Liverpool paid him per year, it’s still a hefty outlay for a star name who has spent much more time in the treatment room than on the pitch. 

Naby's injury woes continue

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. 

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. 

It’s a long way from his peak when he bossed the RB Leipzig midfield, turning his club into European contenders and becoming one of the most sought-after players on the continent. 

There were flourishes of talent at Anfield, with Keita starting successful FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Club World Cup finals, and he also played his part in the 2019 Champions League as well as the 2020 Premier League. He scored a memorable opening goal in the 5-0 away win against Manchester United in 2021.

He will always have those successes attached to his name but on a personal contribution level, there wasn’t ever enough. 

Werder Bremen are not the club that they were and even in those modest surroundings, Keita is finding it tough to stand out.

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