SCOUTING THE TARGET: NABY KEÏTA

Judging from the latest LFC transfer rumours that we all have been hearing, a big summer transfer window is upon us! Perhaps this is the window when we will finally have a new record signing — maybe even many new record signings! Now wouldn’t that make you smile even little? It makes me feel optimistic that some big names have been linked to us by many reliable journalists lately. One transfer target, that peaked my interest was Red Bull Leipzig’s 22 yeas old midfielder, Naby Keïta. If rumours are to be believed, talks with his representatives have already begun and he would cost us around £48M.

But is he worth it? Let’s have a quick look at his profile.

The Guinean international would “fit into Klopp’s intensive football with ease” — according to one of the Bundesliga followers whom we interviewed.

Born in the Guinean capital Conakry in 1995, he joined the Horoya youth team in 2004 and later moved to French second division club Istres in the summer of 2013. Naby Keïta joined Austrian side RB Salzburg in 2014 where he scored five goals and two assists in 30 games, helping his team win Austrian Bundesliga and cup double. Not a bad return of goals from the ball winning-midfielder! Moreover, he was even awarded Austrian Bundesliga Player of the year the following season. Initially deployed as a defensive midfielder, the 22-year-old flourished when he was given freedom to move the ball forward and create attacking situations. Keïta had a direct hand in 19 goals for Salzburg in 2015/16. The fast-passing high energy style suited the youngster and prepared him for the next challenge that came his way. He moved to RB Leipzig, sister-club of RB Salzburg when they gained promotion to German Bundesliga in June 2016.

Naby Keïta has played a vital role in Leipzig’s surprising ascension among the elite this season. This season the young Guinean has scored 5 Goals and 6 Assists, creating 40 chances in the process. However, though the return of goals and assists can be considered as an added bonus, it is not the sole reason we are targeting this talented youngster. If he is going to play as a CDM/CM in our 4–2–3–1 or 4–3–3 system next season, it’s his ability to press, his work-rate and his passing range that could potentially be vital to us.

DEFENSIVE CAPABILITIES:

The above stats highlight high defensive work-rate of Keïta compared to current Liverpool midfielders. His high interception showcases his intelligence and ability to read opponent’s play and ball-winning ability. His Defence Score justifies the defensive work rate he puts in into every game.

PASSING STATISTICS:

With 81% passing accuracy, Keïta can have a better impact on our attacking play than current midfielders as highlighted by his value in the number of Assists, Key Passes and Chances Created.

Speaking to one of my friends Sonu (@s0nu_), who is an avid follower of the Bundesliga (and Borussia Dortmund in particular), he states –

“Keïta’s strength is his dribbling, first touch, and his transition game. He has the ability to play some really good key passes, although, he sometimes tries them a bit too often. Also, because of his young age and lack of experience, he tries too hard and pushes himself a bit more than necessary which might make him struggle to play too many games in Premier League. He can perform a lot better with a defensive midfielder playing alongside him. He reminds a lot of people of Gündoğan. He can find his way out of the opponent’s press with his ball control and would fit into Klopp’s intensive football with ease; as Leipzig’s game is intense as well.”

OH, HOW MANY TIMES WE HAVE CRIED FOR THAT ATTACKING THREAT FROM OUR MIDFIELD THIS SEASON!

Looking at his defensive and passing stats, along with his return of 5 Goals and 6 Assists this season, one can arguably concede that Naby Keïta is a clear upgrade on our current midfield. With Can, Wijnaldum, Lallana, Henderson and Grujic already competing for places, and the possibility of Coutinho playing from the centre as well next season, it would be interesting to see how Keïta fits into our setup.

Also Published on: Kopconnected.com

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