January 7, 2019 / 8:54 AM / 5 months ago

Soccer: Klopp expects adapting Keita to be more influential at Liverpool

(Reuters) - Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita is still adapting to the Premier League and will have a greater influence on the team in the second half of the season, his manager Juergen Klopp said.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester City v Liverpool - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - January 3, 2019 Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp before the match Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff/Files

Keita, who joined Liverpool from Germany’s RB Leipzig, made an encouraging start to his career in England before a combination of minor injuries and a dip in form curtailed his playing time.

The Guinea international has started eight of Liverpool’s 21 league games and Klopp said the player needed to grow in confidence before he could recapture the form that led Liverpool to pay Leipzig in excess of 50 million pounds ($63.72 million) for him.

“I’m completely happy with Naby but could he be a bit more confident in the games? Yes,” Klopp said ahead of Liverpool’s FA Cup tie at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

“Is he exactly the player in his best time at Leipzig? No. He’s still adapting, that’s how it is ... There’s so much to come and so much influence he can have on each game.”

Keita is behind Georginio Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson, James Milner and fellow new recruit Fabinho in the Liverpool midfield pecking order, but is likely to start against Wolves alongside Adam Lallana.

“Adam is in outstanding shape,” Klopp said of Lallana, who has not started a match since November. “(He’s) a player who would play four games a day if he could because of his desire to play football.

“He is in the best moment since I’ve known him as a person and will have a big part of our season.”

The cup tie at Wolves’ Molineux Stadium will be Liverpool’s first game since they suffered their first Premier League defeat of the season at the hands of title rivals Manchester City last Thursday.

($1 = 0.7847 pounds)

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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