Jurgen Klopp explains Liverpool FC decision to substitute Naby Keita

Liverpool FC manager Jurgen Klopp explains why he hauled off Naby Keita in the 41st minute of Tuesday's 3-1 loss at Real Madrid

Jurgen Klopp
Jurgen Klopp (Photo: New Balance)

Jurgen Klopp has explained that his decision to substitute Naby Keita was tactical after Liverpool FC’s 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday night.

The Guinea international was named in Klopp’s starting line-up for the first time since the first week of March for the first leg of their Champions League last-eight tie in Madrid.

Keita struggled along with the rest of his Liverpool FC team-mates against the Spanish giants in the first half as Zinedine Zidane’s side eased into a commanding lead.

Vinicius Junior broke the deadlock in the 27th minute before Spanish midfielder Marco Asensio doubled the home side’s lead in the 36th minute ahead of half-time in the European tie.

Klopp opted to replace Keita with Thiago Alcantara four minutes before half-time even though the African midfielder didn’t appear to be struggling with an injury.

Speaking at his post-match media conference following their Champions League defeat, Klopp confirmed that his decision to substitute Keita was tactical.

“Naby was not responsible for the performance in the first half,” said Klopp.

“He was not good in the game, but I could have made a few more changes in that moment. Yes, it was tactical.

“I did it, and now I’m not happy about it because we talk as if it was Naby’s fault.”

Keita has started nine games and has made seven substitute appearances in a stop-start season for the 2020 Premier League champions.

The Guinea international moved to Liverpool FC in a £48m deal from Bundesliga outfit RB Leipzig in 2018.

Liverpool FC will host Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday.

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