Double-team: What Naby Keita will eventually bring to Liverpool
Seeing Naby Keita grace the Anfield pitch is a dream Liverpool fans have been hoping would become reality ever since its announcement last summer. Reds’ fans are anticipating July 1, when they will finally see their coveted man in Liverpool red.
The Merseysiders made every effort to transfer the Guinean to the Premier League this January. RB Leipzig refused to let the player go. Despite the Bundesliga club's rigid stance, the move will happen. That is when Liverpool will become a more balanced team. Keita’s outstanding skills would transform almost any club. It just happens Liverpool desperately need the talents the 23-year-old offers.
Here are three ways Naby Keita's presence on the Anfiield pitch will improve the Merseyside outfit.
Reliable guard in defense
Naby Keita plays centrally for die Bullen. Ralph Hasenhuttl demands the player in that role for his club be defensively skilled to provide cover for the back line. Keita complies. The box-to-box midfielder is a strong tackler and where his forays forward weaken put him at a disadvantage, his speed and strength compensate.
However, that is only the tip of the iceberg. A good reader of the game, he anticipates opponents' before they begin, and snuffs them out. His positional play is excellent. He can be found in the right place at the right time almost every time.
His superior intelligence allows him to spring his side on the counterattack. Liverpool possess an impressive arsenal of explosive attacking options. Klopp lacks a player who will consistently light the fuse.
A seasoned attacker
Keita is the midfielder every team wants. His only weakness is his lack of aerial skill. He can't help it that he's short. The Guinean makes up for his deficiency with excellent vision and superb dribbles that extricate him from seemingly inescapable situations.
He also knows how to avoid pressure through his impressive ball control. There was a time when midfielders at the back were only expected to pass the ball to the nearest man. Keita very much belongs in the modern legion who do it all.
Keita does much more than pass and move. He will also win the ball high up the pitch. He is a terror for opponents with and without the ball. Playing for Jurgen Klopp will only make him better.
He is a winner
It is normal to expect a good return from a player with Keita's skill set. While Timo Werner recorded the highest goals for Leipzig in 2016/17, the Guinean contributed at both ends. In the past season-and-a-half, Werner has contributed 35 goals and 11 assists. From a deeper lying position, Keita supplemented him with another 15 and 10. The African can win a game on his own, or set his teammates up for the killing stroke.
Liverpool’s attacking squad can run with anyone on their day. Ask Manchester City. Yet, they miss Steven Gerrard's presence. At his best, the Scouser could make an inch-perfect tackle, then hoof a precise long-ball on the counter.
That is what makes a match-winner in midfield. That is what Liverpool will get with Naby Keita controlling the affairs of the midfield.