LIVERPOOL boss Jurgen Klopp has revealed Naby Keita is one of the first names on his team-sheet, and after a near-faultless performance in the 3-0 win over Bournemouth, it is clear to see why.
The Reds reclaimed the Premier League top spot, albeit just for 24 hours, thanks to goals from Sadio Mane, Georginio Wijnaldum and Mohamed Salah.
It was an assured performance all-round, as the Merseysiders appeared to put whatever issues had seen them slide to successive draws against West Ham and Leicester, firmly in the past as the title race hots up.
But a delighted Klopp couldn’t help but gush about one man in particular who had executed his plan to perfection.
Klopp said: “This was a really good game. There is still a lot to come because he is still adapting. Sometimes it takes longer, that’s how it is.
“People lose patience, that’s normal – but we don’t.
“You have to talk and explain. He made a big move from Leipzig to Liverpool and he wants to do it right.
“Against Bournemouth it looked natural. That’s exactly where we wanted it to come and where we wanted it to go. It was the big step he needed.
“We have a lot of options, Hendo (Jordan Henderson) maybe could have played. Adam (Lallana) could have played again, but it was clear that Naby was pretty much one of the first on the team sheet.”
Recently fit-again Trent Alexander-Arnold could also barely contain his excitement at the resounding victory, as he got himself back on the pitch with a cameo appearance after a three-game absence.
He said: “We hardly put a foot wrong. I had never seen a 3pm game at Anfield on Saturday like that before.
“The scarves, the flags, the banners: it was something that I hadn’t experienced. It was something new for me.”
In a performance as routine as that of the Reds on Saturday, it can be difficult to produce moments of magic.
But that is exactly what Gini Wijnaldum did midway through the first half, as he elegantly lifted the ball over the helpless Artur Boruc to double the Liverpool lead.
However, it could have been a very different story for the Holland international, who admits he and his bowels have had the week from hell.
“I was vomiting and everyone was a little bit scared,” he said.
“I didn’t train on Friday and I didn’t sleep at the team hotel.
“The manager called me and said: Do you think you can play? Saturday morning I was still weak and had diarrhoea.
“After my goal, at half-time I had to run off to get to the toilet. I was like ‘Oh no’ but I managed to control it!”
On the title race, the ex-Newcastle workhorse confesses life hasn’t been an easy ride in the Liverpool camp of late, but he maintains the belief amongst his pals has never been higher.
“It is difficult but we already know from the beginning that it would be difficult,” said Wijnaldum.
“We have to give everything in every match and see where we are.
“What gives me confidence in Liverpool? Everything. The whole team.
“We did two draws in a row and that didn’t feel that good. It could be better. But we must appreciate where we stand.”