Liverpool cannot win the Premier League and progress in the Champions League, unless they sign the best possible players at the right positions. Sometimes those are very expensive, sometimes they aren’t. After the signing of Mohamed Salah, now the media report that Reds consider bid for the RB Leipzig’s midfielder Naby Keita.
It is believed that Keita has told RB Leipzig that he is willing to move to Anfield this summer if both clubs agree on a transfer fee. Liverpool have been encouraged to sign the player, but RB Leipzig has said that Keita would cost Reds around £70 million.
Such transfer amount is almost double the Liverpool’s current transfer record and the one that they have paid for their new winger Mohamed Salah. So the most reasonable question is why the Anfield giants would break their transfer record for a young player, who might or might not be successful in the Premier League?
Keita made the headlines a number of times last season as he helped the newcomers RB Leipzig to finished second in the Bundesliga and to qualify for the Champions League. The player has 3 years remaining of his contract and despite that he has been offered a contract extension, Keita didn’t sign it.
Is Naby Keita “sensational”?
The website This is Anfield interviewed Keith Costigan, a Bundesliga commentator and expert, and asked him to explain what kind of a midfielder is Naby Keita. Costigan has commentated on RB Leipzig matches last season and is familiar with the Keita’s qualities. According to him Keita is a “box-to-box midfielder, not a holding player, and while there are similarities with N’golo Kante in terms of running output, Keita is much better going forward than Kante”.
Mr. Costigan said “He’s sensational”, about Keita, this still doesn’t mean that he is the right player at the right price for Liverpool. According to Costigan Keita’s first touch and movement on the pitch are remarkable. He also adds that when Keita plays a pass he loves to go forward as “he’s not a No 6, he doesn’t sit in front of the back four”.
“Sometimes you say when players do that you lose your shape, but he has so much energy – he reminds me of Kante in terms of the output he does in running. He’ll get beyond the back four, he’ll make those runs, but he’ll also get back in defensively”, said Costigan. He has also explained that in RB Leipzig Keita has played in a high pressing system “that’s, basically, a clone of what Klopp did at Dortmund and does at Liverpool” and added.
“He’s the perfect fit for Klopp’s Liverpool; good energy, much better going forward than Kante, he’ll get goals as well”, said Costigan to about Naby Keita to ThisIsAnfield.
What kind of midfielders Liverpool need?
It seem to me a madness to spend £50, £60 or £70 million to bring a player who would duplicate Georginio Wijnaldum’s qualities. During his first season at Anfield Wijnaldum wasn’t at his best. He has scored 6 important goals in 36 appearances and we should give him a credit by saying that he has netted some of the most important goals for the Reds in season 2016/2017. The last one was the opener against Middlesborough in the last game of the season that secured champions League qualification for Liverpool.
Liverpool have Jordan Henderson, Emre Can, Adam Lalana, James Milner, Georginio Wijnaldum as box-to-box midfielders and it looks like that splashing up to £70 million for another one would not be the smart way to spend money. At the same time Reds really need a world class holding midfielder. At the moment Liverpool have Lucas Leiva (who is about to leave the club) and the young Serbian Marco Grujic on this position. Emre Can has also played as holding midfielder in many games last season, but despite that he has done a good job on this position, Liverpool still need to find their new Xabi Alonso.
A holding midfielder who could be a good signing for the Reds is the Borusia Dortmunds 21-year-old player Julian Weigl. He has played 60 times for the team that Jurgen Klopp managed between 2008 and 2015. It is not surprise that Barcelona have been reported as one of the clubs interested to sign Weigl, as they search for someone who can fill in the Andres Iniesta’s boots.
A good option for the Liverpool’s midfield is the Valencia’s Dani Parejo. He is a versatile midfielder who has scored 30 goals in 176 appearances for the Los Murcielagos. Valencia have been willing to sell Parejo during the January transfer windows, but he decided to stay at the club until the end of the season. “I could have left, but I didn’t. I believed it wasn’t the best for Valencia because we are in a delicate situation and my duty is to give my contribution to this team to come out of this situation”, said Dani Parejo in February and demonstrated loyalty to his club. He added that he he is about to leave he wants his “departure to be good for everyone”.
It is also possible that Jurgen Klopp has decided to transform the Liverpool’s captain Jordan Henderson to holding midfielder and to play him on this position with Emre Can filling in when Henderson is not available.