After what has been possibly the longest 12 months of Liverpool fans’ lives, the anticipation and eagerness to see their new number eight in the Shankly Red of Liverpool sparked sheer elation across Merseyside.
Without getting distracted from the prospect of the move, Naby Keita did his talking on the pitch as one of the most consistent performers in the Bundesliga last season. Under the right manager and in the right squad setup, his £52.75m move to Merseyside could be one to remember.
He has everything in his favour, playing under a world class manager in Jurgen Klopp, featuring alongside world class players and playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world, there is no doubt that he has put his name on the map. He arrives with a dream: to win the Champions League.
After the Reds came so close to winning ‘Ol’ Big Ears’ last time out in Kiev, the ambition in this current Liverpool side is through the roof and the owners are spending big in order to make their dreams a reality.
Some will argue that Liverpool overachieved to reach the biggest game in Europe last season and they may have a point, but at the same time it was no coincidence that the Reds got there in epic goalscoring fashion.
Consistency hampered Liverpool’s progress in the early part of last season, the midfield was a big factor as there didn’t appear to be a set plan when things weren’t going their way.
Panic used to set in very easily without many alternatives. If there were more options in the side that provided a broader squad depth, those old nagging issues could be rectified and with the arrival of Keita, those problems of the past could be abolished once and for all.
This will suit Liverpool’s new number eight down to a tee. More than likely he will slip into a midfield three alongside captain Jordan Henderson and fellow new signing Fabinho, and going by the performances of both these players last season, it looks a very strong trio and one that is expected to make Liverpool fans salivate just at the thought.
More than likely he would be a box-to-box midfielder, similar to where he played for RB Leipzig. Although he has played quite deep for the Reds in the friendlies against Chester and Tranmere Rovers so far, his energy will be something Liverpool will crave after the sheer excitement that lit up stadiums, living rooms and pubs across the United Kingdom last season.
Emre Can departing for Juventus before Keita’s imminent arrival was well timed. They are similar players but Keita is a class above the now Juventus midfielder, more consistent and a stronger player.
Making his first appearance at Chester during a 7-0 win, the Guinean playmaker only played 45 minutes but the legs and the stamina of the 23-year-old is nothing short of astonishing. His performance illustrated that he is ready to play first team football immediately, and that he would comfortably play 90 minutes in a Premier League match tomorrow.
Whilst not at the extreme abilities of Cristiano Ronaldo when he was 23 playing for Manchester United, Keita can still make the world stop and pay attention in the next 12 months like Mohamed Salah did, perhaps becoming a national hero worshipped by all in Guinea.
Keita has had to wait a year before he could make the jump from Germany to England after a deal was reached between the two clubs to make the transfer happen this summer and the Guinean played one more season in the Bundesliga.
Even though his deal had been sewn up, he still had to represent RB Leipzig and concentrate on the job at hand, and he did so with flying colours. Many would get distracted by the prospect of moving to one of the biggest clubs in Europe and that would hamper their performances on the field, but not Naby.
Out of 27 appearances for Die Roten Bullen, he made 23 starts, scoring six goals and made five assists in his final season in Saxony. Keita is a very level headed young man who could possibly be set for the most unforgettable season of his career.