Naby Keita has been the talk of the town this summer as Liverpool are making it their mission to sign the RB Leipzig player. Although he starred in the Bundesliga last season, it's fair to say that not many people this side of Germany have seen the midfielder in action. So what kind of player is he?
Keita is a central midfielder and Guinean international who rose through the ranks of France's Ligue 2 with FC Istres, before jumping over to Austria where he signed for Red Bull Salzburg. There he was crowned the player of the year in 2015-16 while winning the Austrian Bundesliga and Cup double. As is custom with players within the energy drinks company's consortium of football teams, he moved to the German arm of their brand last summer for £12.75 million.
That fee could be incredible value should he move to Anfield, with Leipzig demanding £70 million for his services. Such a price would almost double their club transfer record, having just broken it last month for Mohamed Salah.
What kind of player are they getting for that money though?
Keita is a versatile central midfielder who could play in several roles for the Reds. He can sit deep and break up play, winning balls to set up a counter-attack, but ideally, he would feature as a box-to-box machine. This would combine his energy, ability to intercept the ball, and dribbling to great effect. Interestingly, Nick Ames described him as a cross between N'Golo Kante and Deco. Such a level of versatility in the middle of the park would be perfect for Jurgen Klopp's side.
Keita is not a prolific goalscorer, but he did find the net eight times in the German top tier. Arguably his most impressive was the first of two goals he scored at home to Werder Bremen. Starting off with the ball in midfield, he leaves one player rooted to the spot before taking on another two. Once he bypasses them he beats two more defenders to set up a one-on-one with the goalkeeper, who he duly rounds before scoring. It's a magnificent effort, and the kind of goal that would go down in Premier League history if he were to repeat the feat at an English ground.
With seven assists to his name, Keita contributed 15 goals to Die Roten Bullen's superb season, which ended with the Saxony club finishing second behind Bayern Munich in their inaugural appearance in the Bundesliga. His ability to contribute at both ends of the pitch in the manner that he does would seemingly make him an ideal fit for the English top flight, should Liverpool pay the amount asked of them.
Following the drawn-out conversation surrounding Paul Pogba's world record transfer to Man United last year and whether or not it was worth the money, you can be sure that similar questions would be asked of Keita. With Klopp's side returning to the Champions League however, his signing would send a real message of intent for the coming season.