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Keita could always depend on one thing from Klopp - until now

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You can see the logic, but you can also see the thing that has often been labelled at Jurgen Klopp whenever there have been failings in his teams.

Sometimes he's just too loyal.



It's a weird thing to pick holes in and to fault in a person, and let's be frank, there really is not a lot you can fault about the Liverpool career of Klopp. Yes this has been a bad season, but come on.



That 'over-loyalty' - shall we call it that? - was in evidence back when he stuck with Simon Mignolet in goal for a little too long, and then with Loris Karius, who he tried to rebuild after Kiev.



Dejan Lovren probably falls just on the wrong side of it as well, and Divock Origi certainly.

Klopp likes his lads. Loves them, really. You still feel that he pines for Emre Can a bit. Probably Philippe Coutinho in some form too.

Klopp tried to give Karius a chance again after Kiev (Image: PA) Read More Related Articles Read More Related Articles

So when he sat down with Pep Lijnders and the rest of his coaching staff and worked out a way to try and get the better of the formidable, computer-game-boss level Real Madrid midfield that is Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro, the little light would have gone on above the glass display case and the siren would have sounded.

'In need of inspiration? Play Naby.'

Recent months have tended to see Klopp drop his guard a little bit more, probably because of poor results and the fact that this game really is a fickle, relentless business, and so we know that he picked Naby Keita because his felt his dribbling abilities could "bring special things" to the performance, because that's what he said before the game.

But they brought nothing.

He was by no means alone as being dreadfully under-par in a first half as bad as any Liverpool have produced in recent years, but Keita just looked completely at odds with himself and his teammates during the game.

Keita struggled before being replaced in the 42nd minute (Image: PA)

It was almost as if he'd been dropped in and was meeting them for the first time, and not that this is the tail end of his third season with this club and with the majority of these footballers.

If Klopp thought that the only way to get past the Real midfield was to run through them then he'd surely have been better off picking Curtis Jones, the young midfielder who has usurped Keita with his displays this season and has actually been unlucky not to be used more often.

James Milner's omission was understandable due to the fact he played 90 minutes at Arsenal last Saturday, although he too would have been an option and would have given the added bonus of bringing leadership to a group who were sorely lacking in it.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is another one, although the level of trust Klopp has in him seems to have evaporated from the moment he picked up an injury in pre-season. Xherdan Shaqiri and even Roberto Firmino are others if this was the way the manager wanted to play.

But then all of this ignores the bright neon arrow pointing towards the obvious point.

Thiago had been left out of the starting lineup (Image: PA) Read More Related Articles

If Liverpool wanted to get better at controlling games in this world of sterile, often possession-based pandemic football, then why on earth would Klopp not start with the man he bought to help his team get better at exactly that?

Prior to Madrid, Liverpool had played 18 matches in 2021 and Thiago Alcantara had started 15 of them, coming on as an early substitute in one of the others.

The midfield world that Kroos, Modric and Casemiro inhabit is one that he knows. He's familiar with their company.

In a game where pressing was always going to be key, to remove a player who has done so relentlessly, and yes at times recklessly, for Klopp was an odd decision.

But then logic often goes out of the window when it comes to selecting Keita.

The Guinean has always been rather unfortunate in that the Liverpool he agreed to sign for in 2017 then didn't really exist by the time he turned up a year later.

The Reds had evolved into a side that got their creativity through the full-back areas, turning the centre of the pitch into one where perspiration was valued over inspiration. And they got a lot better as a result.

Keita struggled to impose himself on the game (Image: REUTERS)

Keita's attempts to adapt to this have never quite sat right for a prolonged period of time, of course largely due to his injury issues.

There were good signs at the end of last season and the beginning of this one, in particular in the wins against Chelsea and Arsenal where his diligence and blocking of passing lanes was approaching Gini Wijnaldum levels. But then Aston Villa away happened and he was hooked at half-time.

When Liverpool could have done with him being fit this season he's been absent, and the matches where those "special things" were needed have been tossed away in a whirlwind of frustration and fairly incredible, all-time low levels of unwanted records.

That Klopp turned to the unpredictable - in all ways - talents of Keita in Madrid is both remarkable in the sense that you didn't see it coming, and unremarkable in that the manager loves him.

It could have been a masterstroke if he played in the manner that he was supposed to, but his withdrawal before half-time suggested so much, and signalled that the manager's patience may just have run out.

Klopp made a mistake in picking him, he'll know that now.

And you wonder if that level of trust, however misguided, will ever come back.

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