Naby Keita slams accusations that former Liverpool star refused to play for Werder Bremen

Naby Keita has declared he won’t accept people ‘trying to tarnish my image’ after hitting back at claims he refused to play for Werder Bremen against Bayer Leverkusen.

The Guinean has endured a torrid time with the Bundesliga club since leaving Liverpool last summer, with injuries limiting him to just five appearances and only one start. With that one start coming back in October, he has been an unused substitute on seven occasions, but Sunday's loss was the first time he had been absent from the squad entirely when available for action.

An unused substitute against Eintracht Frankfurt last weekend, Keita was absent from the Bremen matchday squad that lost 5-0 to Leverkusen on Sunday as Xabi Alonso’s side clinched their first ever Bundesliga title.

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Speaking ahead of the game, Bremen’s managing director Clemens Fritz claimed that Keita refused to travel with the matchday squad after learning he would not be named in the starting XI, with the club posting his quotes on their social media channels.

“After Naby found out yesterday that he would not be playing from the start, he decided not to get on the bus but to go home,” Fritz said. “We will talk to him and his agent tomorrow about the consequences and how to proceed."

However, Keita was quick to dismiss such accusations as he posted his own statement on Instagram.

“I wish to clarify my situation at my club Werder Bremen,” he said. “Ever since I arrived at this magnificent club, I have always shown my professionalism. I have always tried to help the club and the great supporters, especially during this time of poor results.

“Since the start of my career I have never had problems with my discipline and have always shown an exemplary attitude. I will not accept any person trying to tarnish my image.

“To the supporters, I have always worked hard in training to get the right result at the weekend. In training I can only give my best. And to my team-mates, good luck for the match.”