InterviewNaby Keita on RB Leipzig return, pre-season, setting targets and more
Naby Keita is looking forward to the different kind of test former club RB Leipzig will pose Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool squad on Thursday evening.
After completing their pre-season tour of Thailand and Singapore last weekend, the Reds are currently training back at home on Merseyside ahead of the next phase of their 2022-23 preparations.
A training camp in Austria begins later this week, following a meeting with Leipzig beforehand in Germany in what will be a third friendly fixture of the summer.
The Bundesliga team are a side Keita knows well having made the switch to Anfield from the Red Bull Arena in the summer of 2018, and he is looking forward to returning to familiar ground for what he expects to be a good contest.
“I’m made up and really happy to be going back to Germany, in particular the town of Leipzig,” Keita told Liverpoolfc.com.
“That’s where I really progressed as a player and that’s where Liverpool first saw me and decided to bring me to the club.
“I’ll be really happy to go back to see my old teammates and my old club. It’s a young team that plays football the right way and in a good spirit. So, I think it’s going to be a great game.”
The challenge the German outfit will provide to the Reds squad in the 6.15pm BST kick-off is one Keita is welcoming with open arms.
“From time to time you do come up against different playing styles and tactics, Leipzig are the sort of team that likes to press high, like we do,” the midfielder added.
“They don’t like to let the opposition team play and have the ball. That’s why I said it’s going to be a game played in the right spirit, and that’s why it’s going to be a good game to help us to prepare ahead of the new season.”
Read on for the rest of the interview as the No.8 discusses pre-season, the recent visit to Thailand and Singapore, setting targets, and much more…
On whether pre-season is a time of year he enjoys…
Absolutely, I’m really, really happy to have started back training again. It’s all part and parcel of getting ready and preparing, sometimes it’s not something that is easy, but it’s all part of our job and when you do it well and do it right, it serves you well for the season.
On the hard work being put in now paying off later in the season…
Like I was just saying, through these sorts of periods in pre-season you have to give everything that you have got because after that you’ll be fine physically for the whole season, and you’ll be able to help your team as a result. On an individual basis, you’ll be able to make lots of progress too.
On the recent visit to Thailand and Singapore…
First and foremost, we need to thank and show our appreciation for the fans who came out to see us. We really appreciated that because they were there to support and see us play. The games themselves were good for us and a great opportunity to be with the fans, but more than anything else, it was to help us prepare. It wasn’t easy for us, because we were only there for a week, but we still really enjoyed it. We won one and lost one, we would’ve loved to have won both games but that’s football. You can’t always win every game. I think that we really enjoyed ourselves being over there in Thailand and Singapore.
On games providing the chance to gain more match sharpness as the season approaches…
Absolutely right, in the first game I played 30 minutes and in the next game I played 30 minutes. I think that in the game against RB Leipzig I’ll get the same, or maybe a few minutes more, but to be honest with you we’re just starting on the road to full match fitness. But you know it is not easy because it is right at the start of the season, you know you have to come back little by little in stages. I’m absolutely sure these two forthcoming games are going to help us a lot.
On whether he sets goals during the pre-season period for the year ahead…
Yeah, absolutely, every season I set myself targets to try to compare and compete with what I have done in the previous season. I always try to improve and achieve even more. Right from when I first started playing football, I have always been like that. Last season went pretty well, I played in a lot of games, which we won. This season I would like to do the same again and play in every game I can. More than anything else, it’s just to help the team out and maybe get on the scoresheet more frequently.
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