Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita will miss the rest of the season and the Africa Cup of Nations after being ruled out for two months with a groin injury, Jurgen Klopp said on Friday.
The Guinea international had to be substituted during the first half of Liverpool’s 3-0 defeat to Barcelona on Wednesday after going down following a challenge from Ivan Rakitic.
Keita, whose debut season at Anfield has been disrupted by injuries, was beginning to find form and had scored three goals in his previous five appearances for Liverpool.
“It’s bad news,” Klopp said at a news conference. “It’s a high grade abductor injury. The tendon is ruptured which keeps him out for at least I would say two months. So bad news for us, but bad news for Guinea as well because the African Cup of Nations are coming up.
“He was in a really good moment, a really good moment but it happened. Football and life are sometimes not too nice, but yeah very serious.”
Keita, 24, has made 35 international appearances for Guinea and was a key part of the team that qualified for the biennial tournament for the first time since 2015. The tournament, held this year in Egypt, gets underway June 21, with Guinea drawn alongside Nigeria, Madagascar and Burundi in Group B.
Liverpool travel to Newcastle United on Saturday and will return to the top of the Premier League with a win at St. James’ Park. The title remains in Manchester City’s hands, however, and Pep Guardiola’s side will win the league if they win their final two games — at home to Leicester on Monday and away to Brighton on the final day.
Defeat in Barcelona also left Liverpool’s Champions League aspirations hanging by a thread, with the Reds needing a big comeback at Anfield next week to turn the tie around.
Asked about how his side were dealing with the blow of losing heavily to Barcelona, Klopp said: “We didn’t need to pick players up in Barcelona and give them a hug. It’s in us. If you want to win in football you have to accept that you can lose. I had more positive thoughts about the game than negative because of what we did on the pitch.
“The boys are completely on fire. When you’re in the race, you don’t get tired. We are ambitious like hell. All we can do is beat Newcastle and that’s unbelievably difficult, what other teams do on Monday night isn’t our problem.”
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