Liverpool target Naby Keita is definitely worth RB Leipzig's €80m asking price

ShareClose Comments
The Reds will have to smash their transfer record if they wish to bring in the Guinea international, but he would be a great fit in Jurgen Klopp's XI


COMMENT

Jurgen Klopp's third season in charge of Liverpool sees the German manager bring the Reds to the Champions League for the first time since he arrived at Anfield, having finally adapted the team to his liking.

Goretzka lights up Confed Cup semi-final

After two full seasons in charge, Liverpool are now playing like a Klopp team, with agile players eager to win the ball back and turn defence into attack. He has already broken the club transfer record, bringing in Mohamed Salah from Roma for a transfer fee in excess of £36 million (€42m).

The next big target on Klopp's list as he further refines his side is Naby Keita. RB Leipzig do not need to sell the 22-year-old midfielder and are demanding €80m to secure his services, which would make him the most expensive Bundesliga export, topping Kevin De Bruyne's sale from Wolfsburg to Manchester City by €5m.

Keita is no stranger to transfer records. He was the most expensive sale for Istres when he joined RB Salzburg for €1.5m, and then became Leipzig's most expensive player at €15m last season. The figures are just numbers to the Guinea international, who is humble off the pitch and displays an unending work ethic on it.

"It makes me work even harder," Keita told Bundesliga.com. "When I arrived, people kept telling me I was the club's most expensive player. I just tried to put all the thoughts of that out of mind. I kept on working and tried everything I could to help us win. That's the most important thing to me.

"I tell myself I'm the best player on the pitch. Not for my own sake, but to try and help the team."

HD Naby Keita main

Having shone in his first season at Leipzig with eight goals and seven assists from midfield to propel the newly-promoted club to a top-three finish and Champions League qualification, Keita has proven himself more than capable of playing and succeeding at the highest level.

Former Manchester United assistant manager Rene Meulensteen has compared Keita to last season's Premier League player of the year N'Golo Kante, who helped Chelsea lift the title a year after doing the same at Leicester City.

Arsenal must forget Mbappe go for Lacazette

It is easy to draw comparisons between the two, as Keita displays Kante's knack for intercepting passes and breaking up play, but he is likely to be a box-to-box midfielder at Liverpool, where he will fit in well in Jurgen Klopp's high-pressing approach.

"The longer we have the ball, the less can happen against you," Klopp told Goal. "Then you lose it and you need to get it back, I thought it’s a good idea to get it back immediately, because it makes life easier.

“That is why we think counter-pressing is really important, but it doesn’t work all the time, so then you have to defend in a different way."

GFX Naby Keita RB Leipzig Quote

It is difficult to compare Keita to just one player, as his role has developed as he progressed from Istres to Salzburg to Leipzig. He has been deployed as a defensive midfielder, attacking midfielder, central midfielder, and even on the right side.

Last year, he drew comparisons to one of the greatest midfielders of all-time, Barcelona superstar Andres Iniesta, from his former international manager.

"He is very strong," Luis Fernandez told TFI. "He is an Iniesta. He has intelligence and ease."

It is a comparison that the midfielder embraces, not only for the way Iniesta plays, but for how he is part of the team collective and puts team success above individual accolades.

A new golden generation for Spain

"He looks so calm, both on and off the field," Keita told Bundesliga.com. "He never makes technical mistakes. I am inspired by his vision, skills and change of pace.

"My greatest strength is to work in the collective, to implement the system, to play together with the team. I like his style, but also how he lives: calm, balanced, you can hear nothing negative about his life."

Klopp's Liverpool is the perfect destination for a player so focused on being part of a successful team, and a player so capable of dictating games from the centre of the park.

His eight goals were more than any other Bundesliga midfielder last season, but his all-round stats are no less impressive. Keita averaged 3.09 successful dribbles per 90 minutes as well as 3.05 interceptions and 3.02 tackles, helping win the ball back and build play with his 82 per cent passing percentage.

In fact, Keita's overall figures for the 31 games he played last season saw him complete more dribbles (83) and more interceptions (82) than any Liverpool player, while only James Milner (94) and Jordan Henderson (88) had more tackles than the Guinea midfielder (81).

Sadio Mane Liverpool

At Liverpool, he will be reunited with former RB Salzburg team-mate Sadio Mane, who he admits is still a major factor in his life.

"Sadio Mane gave me a lot of advice," he told Foot365. "He showed me the way. Who would not dream of playing in the Premier League and especially to make a mark there like he is doing? His career proves that hard work pays off. His help is important for my progress."

Senegal attacker Mane's first season at Anfield was a revelation, after becoming the most expensive African player in history, he netted 13 goals in 27 Premier League games, and continued to grow under Klopp.

At €80m, Keita would surpass Mane and now Salah to become that record's new holder at Liverpool, and a similarly impressive first campaign to Mane under Klopp is likely.

Keita will be the perfect player for Klopp, and Anfield the perfect home for Keita.

Next article:
'Fellaini's in the best form I've ever seen!' – Mourinho urges Carrick & Herrera patience
Next article:
Tottenham boss Pochettino hails 'top player' Alli
Next article:
Ancelotti: James needs to improve physical condition
Next article:
Valverde hails Messi: 'He's extraordinary'
Next article:
NASL files federal antitrust lawsuit against U.S. Soccer
Close