Liverpool's Naby Keita has revealed he was a keen and dedicated student of Jurgen Klopp's system long before his move to Merseyside became official earlier this summer.
The Guinean midfielder knew he was going to be a Liverpool player for season 2018/19 a year in advance, a year in which he played out his football with RB Leipzig having seen a deal agreed in advance between the two clubs, which was finalised for a fee of £52.75m.
And while Keita insisted the German side had '100%' of his focus, it did not stop him from religiously dissecting the Reds' weekly performances to get an early insight into what was in store not only as a Liverpool player, but as a player in the Premier League.
“I watched every match. It was going to be important for me,” Keita told The Times. “The way they played, the tactics, everything. Obviously, I still had the contract with Leipzig and I was focused 100 per cent on helping them but I was watching every game.
“You are fulfilling a dream of coming to a massive club like Liverpool — it is normal you do as much as you can to prepare to be ready from the moment you arrive.
Take Naby Keita, he plays almost as if he’s not been coached. Capable of doing pretty much everything you can ask for in a midfielder and always looking forward. That’s as natural as you can get and with a top manager like Klopp to refine that he could be the complete player.— Dan McLaughlin (@Dan23_92) September 14, 2018
"I suppose the people I concentrated on the most being a midfielder, and looking at things offensively, was Bobby [Roberto Firmino], Sadio [Mané] and Mo [Salah]. I knew Sadio from Red Bull Salzburg, but I would look at their movements.
“They are all fast, skilful, comfortable on the ball; the speed of the two guys out wide means they want the ball in front of them quite often so they can get in behind.
“Bobby likes to come a little deeper and join in, so he wants it to feet. I knew all this before I came, then, of course, you have to assimilate the manager’s ideas, but I had an idea of how I could help to get the team playing and join in with moves.”
While Keita has already shown flashes of brilliance in his four outings to date for the Reds, their remains a feeling that he has yet to come close to hitting his stride - a trait Liverpool as a unit share, although their thirst for success is unquestionable according to the 23-year-old.
“I can smell it in the dressing room — everyone is motivated by that fixture list. I can smell it,” he added. “That is what I have come here for, games like that. I think we are all here to make a difference.
“I don’t really feel there is any pressure on me. The coach just basically says go out and do what you do. The only pressure I have is wanting to help Liverpool win every game.
"We are all going in the same direction and we all feel we want to win something this season. We will see. If we are all focused and at it all the time, then we have the squad to achieve things this year.”