English Premier League side, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has warned Guinea Football Federation against fielding Naby Keita for the Group B tie of the 2019 AFCON against Nigeria, Burundi, and Madagascar. Klopp has been under criticism from the Guinea Football Association over his conclusion that the midfielder would be fit for AFCON.
Klopp said that although Keita is ahead of schedule for a return – but won’t play again this season unless he’s 100% fit.He said, “For me, it would be good if Naby would be 100% fit and could play the Africa Cup of Nations, to be 100% honest. But we don’t know, we will see, and we need to work together with their medical department because in the end, a player who is fit – from my point of view – who can play, should play for his country. If he is not 100% fit, he cannot play. That’s how it is. It is not important whether you play for your country or your club. That’s what we try to make sure. It looks good, very positive and we will see if there is a chance.”
The Reds boss declared the initial prognosis was two months on the sidelines, which was met with anger from the Guinean authority who warned Klopp ” to pull himself together” and “let the doctors do their job” given they want Keita available for next month’s AFCON in Egypt. Keita is part of the 26-man Liverpool squad in Marbella for a week-long training camp ahead of the Champions League final against Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid on June 1 and is continuing his rehabilitation programme away from the main squad with the club’s fitness coaches.
And while Klopp has been encouraged by the progress of the midfielder, he won’t take any unnecessary risks – and believes Keita shouldn’t be considered for international duty this summer unless completely free of
injury. The Liverpool boss said, “Naby is, I would say, a bit ahead of schedule, but that doesn’t mean anything for the final. He is now doing straight runs and all of that stuff, he feels comfortable with 50% intensity and these things – but there is still a way to go. I know about the issues with Guinea and stuff like that; we don’t want to keep a player out if he can play – maybe they think it is like this, but it is not like this.”