Liverpool, after signing Mohamed Salah for a club record fee, will once again shatter the record books for RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita. The midfielder has been linked with the Reds in the last few weeks and though there were initial reports that he won’t be moving, a recent report claims that the Reds will bid up to £50m for the defensive midfielder.
After two attacking reinforcements in Dominic Solanke and Mo Salah, Jürgen Klopp should focus on the midfield and defence which aren’t the strongest positions for Liverpool considering the number of goals they conceded last season.
Naby Keita played a key role in Leipzig’s challenge last season. Playing in a box to box role, the former Salzburg man was unstoppable at the centre of the pitch as he recorded goals, assists, interceptions and vital tackles when his team needed him to; essentially the player Liverpool need in front of their defence.
In 32 Bundesliga games, he managed eight goals and seven assists, a commendable return considering it was his first season in the German top flight.
What is key with his defensive stats is that his interceptions and tackles are of the same number – 2.6 per game. That pretty much means that his positioning was perfect more often than not, something Leipzig needed for their fast transitioning style of play.
The style won’t be too different under Klopp either as he likes his sides to press high and use offence to essentially defend.
Worth the fee?
Well, defensive midfielders are a rare commodity these days. A select few, like N’Golo Kanté and Nemanja Matic, have dominated the league and if Liverpool have to pay a record fee for Keita, they probably should as the effectiveness of such breed of players is there to be seen.
Liverpool’s defending has flattered to deceive more often than not and the last solid holding midfielder they had was Javier Mascherano. They have failed to finish a season with a good defensive record and it’s about time Klopp addresses that issue. To challenge for the title, a good attack won’t be enough.
Having signed Salah, Klopp should go ahead and sign players who will now help the balance of the team rather than filling round pegs in square holes, like he did with James Milner for the entirety of last season.
Lest we forget, Liverpool have Champions League football and can attract talent, so it’s up to the owners to pay the money and compete with the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea in the transfer market and ultimately in the race for the Premier League title.