Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp advised on Naby Keita dilemma amid Atletico Madrid links

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has been warned that struggling midfielder Naby Keita is a ‘sensitive guy’ and needs plenty of love in order to perform at his best, with the 26-year-old’s former team-mate Willi Orban weighing in on his situation at Anfield. Keita has failed to live up to expectations since joining the Reds from RB Leipzig in the summer of 2018, scoring just four goals and providing another seven assists from 76 appearances.

Liverpool parted ways with around £53million to secure the playmaker’s services three years ago, but the Merseyside club are yet to begin reaping the rewards of their investment.

Keita made just 10 appearances in the Premier League this season and has failed to score in each of his last 16 outings, a lacklustre return for a multi-million pound midfielder at a club of Liverpool’s stature.

The Guinea international’s campaign was blighted by a troublesome ankle injury that kept him on the treatment table between the end of December and mid-February, but he was unable to work his way into Klopp’s plans after his return to fitness.

The Reds boss left Keita out of the matchday squads for his side’s last five Premier League matches, sparking rumours of a summer move to newly-crowned La Liga champions Atletico Madrid.

Keita’s representatives have reportedly offered his services to the Spanish heavyweights in order to bring an end to his muted spell at Liverpool, according to AS.

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However, it is said that Atletico are not currently interested in the midfielder and are looking to pursue other targets instead.

Orban, who spent two years alongside Keita at Leipzig, has since offered his advice to Klopp by revealing that his former team-mate needs an arm around him to flourish on a weekly basis.

The Hungary international defender suggested to Goal that Keita may be struggling to adapt to the intense physical and mental demands of Premier League football.

“Naby is a very sensitive guy who has to feel completely comfortable in his environment in order to perform well,” said Orban.

“You have to take special care of him, talk to him a lot. He needed breaks from time to time, when he was with us. The Premier League is certainly even more demanding in this regard.”

It remains to be seen whether Keita will eventually look to follow through on his reported desire to leave Liverpool or stay and fight for his place in the side.

Klopp insisted at the beginning of last month that his troubled playmaker remains an important member of the squad, explaining that Keita’s recent omissions have stemmed from his side’s need for consistency in the middle of the park.

“Naby trains really well in the moment, I have to say,” the Liverpool boss told reporters.

“He trains really well, like a lot of other players, and looks really good in training. But this year now we need stability.

“We will make changes from time to time, definitely, but it’s not like we pick now seven, eight, nine players to change and say: ‘Maybe we can win it like this’.

“The long-term future of Naby Keita, from my point of view, is here, yes.”

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