Klopp explains Keita & Shaqiri’s limited opportunities at Liverpool

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09: Naby Keita of Liverpool reacts during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and AFC Bournemouth at Anfield on February 9, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp explained his reasons for recently limiting Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri’s opportunities.

The duo arrived at Anfield last summer and quickly established themselves in the first-team as Liverpool enjoyed a strong start to the new season.

In recent fixtures, however, both Keita and Shaqiri have slipped down the pecking order and were left as unused substitutes in Liverpool’s 0-0 Merseyside derby draw at Everton last weekend.

In fact, Shaqiri has only featured twice in the Reds’ last six outings with Keita only having 6 minutes of football in the last three games.

But Klopp insists he hasn’t lost faith in the duo and that his changes are simply for tactical reasons.

“It is about our situation in training and what’s needed individually for the next opponent. That is all that we think about,” said Klopp on the club website.

“We don’t stick to one formation or the other, but the boys need to offer. Sometimes it is more possible and sometimes it is not possible for different reasons.

“Sometimes we don’t have the sessions. Then it’s more difficult to offer something. It’s all part of the decision-making.”

Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum have been given the nod in midfield for Liverpool instead in a 4-3-3 formation as the club desperately look to rediscover their early season form.

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Currently, Liverpool have only won four of their last nine league outings and surrendered their lead at the top of the Premier League to Manchester City last weekend.

Klopp added: “It’s just that we have to think about a lot of things before a game. We played quite a few teams with really good set-pieces, stuff like that. We needed to make sure that we had the right line-up and set-up for that.

“Naby is actually in a good moment and has trained well. It’s only been the last three games he didn’t play too much.

“The team is in a good moment and we feel in a good moment so it’s difficult if things are working out well in midfield.

“If we play the system we usually play most of the time then there are only three positions [in midfield]. Somebody has to be out but it’s all good. They are all fit and we can use them all.

“It’s similar with Shaq. He had a little injury and was out [for Bournemouth at home]. There was something with his back and he needed a little time.

“I remember the moment when he got the injury – he won a heading challenge near the sideline. His body wasn’t used to that! It affected him.

“With the line-up we had and system-wise, it wasn’t difficult but we have to change a little bit if Shaq is playing. For the last few games, we didn’t do that. He’s fully fit now.”

Liverpool will play Burnley at Anfield on Sunday for their next Premier League match before travelling to the Allianz Arena for the return leg of their Champions League last-16 clash with Bayern Munich.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 11: Xherdan Shaqiri of Liverpool celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Fulham FC at Anfield on November 11, 2018 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)