Liverpool’s recent cameos in the transfer market have raised a lot of eyebrows, especially after the stunning €78.8m coup of Southampton’s Virgil Van Dijk in the January transfer window.
However, the star spangling move for the world’s latest most expensive defender, has somewhat overshadowed Liverpool’s other acquisition.
RB Leipzig’s Naby Keita agreed on a move to Liverpool next season, earlier this season. While many think that a fee of €75m might be a little too much for a player who has been impressive for the only season in the German top flight, for someone who regularly watches the Bundesliga week in week out, would realize that even an enormous fee of €75m is not enough for the highly talented midfielder.
It’s one side of the dice that RB Leipzig, as a team, have completely failed to live up to their expectations this season. There are many reasons as to why the Leipzigers have failed to dominate the Bundesliga this season.
The side has struggled to provide enough attacking fluency in the final third as were accustomed to last season. Emil Forsberg has finally come back to earth following a monstrous debut season in the Bundesliga last term while Timo Werner hasn’t been as prolific and has also suffered from a few niggles. The team also has an awful record without Marcel Sabitzer.
And then we have Naby Keita, who is undoubtedly having a less impressive season compared to his last one in the Bundesliga.
Usually a frequent inclusion in the Bundesliga TOTW, us Bundesliga experts have hesitated to include the Guinean International in the Bundesliga Hinrunde TOTS this season, just because of the simple fact that he hasn’t been as impressive as last season.
In a season where he has notched up more red cards than actual goals along with several of the field issues, it’s only natural to think that Naby Keita is finally getting exposed and is coming back to earth after his unreal debut season with RB Leipzig.
But what if that ‘less impressive’ season is far better than your average Bundesliga midfielder?
The 22-year-old still has impressive stats on every department of his natural game. He has created second most chances for RB Leipzig this season. According to my colleague Abel Meszaros, who, meanwhile, is compiling his All Bundesliga Teams this season(which you can find here), Naby Keita is in top five in volume key passes(second only to Julian Brandt), ground challenges and dribbles!
All of which, are important aspects of Keita’s overall style of play in the middle third of the pitch. His tally of 104 attempted dribbles(Compiled by Bundesliga Fanatic’s Russian friend, Instat) is only bettered by elite dribblers like Amine Harit, Kingsley Coman and of course, Christian Pulisic.
You just don’t steal someone’s Keita!
Now let’s just move on to a more factual detailing rather than having a statistical outlook on the Liverpool bound midfielder.
Naby Keita is many things in midfield. It is not easy to deduce as to where his true qualities lie in the centre of the pitch.
He is the six, he is the eight and he is the ten but you just don’t know when!
A dribbler, a tackler, a strategist, an inventor, an ingenious individualist and a passer – Naby Keita is everything.
His extreme athleticism allows him to act like N’Golo Kante but his passes into the offensive channels are almost as sublime as David Silva or Ilkay Gundogan. Furthermore, his ball carrying abilities can be compared to Kevin De Bruyne while his aggression is enough to overwhelm any opposing midfielders. He is a midfield chameleon, like Julian Weigl who works behind the scenes and he is the lone enforcer in midfield who steps up in time of need, much like Arturo Vidal. He is simply the complete package!
Players like Ilkay Gundogan, Shinji Kagawa have all found it beneficiary under the tactical philosophy of Jurgen Klopp which enables a creative midfielder to have more space in the dangerous areas of the pitch. Naby Keita’s proficiency of working around tight spaces is ideal for the nature that the Premier League has evolved into, in the past couple of years.
Considering the fact that Liverpool are already on the verge of losing Philipe Coutinho in the upcoming January transfer window, Naby Keita’s arrival seems imperative for the Reds.
Furthermore, Emre Can’s future is also in doubt, which will make Keita all the more important cog in the Liverpool midfield next season. Therefore, the Reds should look for an immediate replacement who can complement the work of Naby Keita in the Liverpool midfield next season.
Overall, Liverpool have played a masterstroke to secure the signing of this highly rated midfielder from RB Leipzig. The 22-year-old has emerged as one of the better midfielders in Europe in such short span of time and his stock is only going to increase.
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