Bengaluru, September 9: Liverpool's new signing Naby Keita has named club legend Xabi Alonso as the toughest opponent he has ever faced.
Keita moved to Liverpool in a £52 million transfer from RB Leipzig this summer and the 23-year-old has enjoyed a positive start to his Merseyside career. The Guinean established himself as a complete midfielder since his Leipzig days but in an interview now has suggested that he was 'made to suffer' by Alonso in Germany.
Anfield hero, Alonso, who won Champions league and FA Cup during his tenure at Liverpool, also had had a fine career at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. And the 23-year-old young midfielder had the chance to face him on the pitch twice in Leipzig colours before Alonso's retirement in the Bundesliga.
And while speaking to Q&A with Liverpool, Keita has claimed Alonso as the hardest player he has come up against.
He told the club's official website: "When I used to play against Bayern, Xabi Alonso always used to give me a really hard time.
"He was so experienced... he made me suffer.
"The way he'd keep switching play just meant that you could never stop running. He was very intelligent."
Naby Keita picks out Xabi Alonso as the hardest opponent he has ever faced. pic.twitter.com/cFCTuvmpcjESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 7, 2018
Even Alonso, way back in June, had suggested Keita is a complete player. Alonso had predicted that the player would be a hit under Jurgen Klopp.
"He's a big personality," the former World Cup winner said.
"He has the hunger, the will to compete, and after in football terms he's an all-round midfielder.
"[He's] good with the ball, he runs and dribbles very quickly with the ball, but he also likes to make things tick in the midfield.
"I think for this position in front of the holding midfielder, or even as a holding midfielder [or] close to the front three, he can have that role to find the space and to be up there. So [he's a] good signing.
"He will have to adapt to the idea [of Klopp's philosophy], but I don't think that he will have many problems because he's a great player and very complete.
"[Under] Jurgen you need to do [play like] 'bang, bang, bang' and if he gets it, he will do well."
Keita has made a fine start to life in England, helping Liverpool maintain a 100 per cent record so far this season, winning four out of four Premier League matches. The midfielder did not start the game against Leicester City but he came off the bench to help his team win 2-1. He was incredible throughout the 90 minutes against West Ham, Crystal Palace and Brighton.