naby keita

Naby Keita – RB Leipzig’s unsung midfield hero

When any football discussion is centered on defensive midfielders, the name N’Golo Kante usually comes up. But there’s actually a defensive midfielder who has performed better than Kante in Europe. His name is Naby Keita and he’s RB Leipzig’s live wire in midfield.

In 2012, a relatively unknown young Naby Keita made the 6000-kilometer trip from Guinea to Europe (France). The 16-year-old had only one thing in mind – to become a big football star. Today, Keita is living his dream in Germany, scoring and creating goals for his team.

However, the road to stardom hasn’t been an easy one for him.
Naby Keita suffered frustration when he first arrived Europe. He had unsuccessful trials at Le Mans and FC Lorient but then found favor with scouts of French Ligue 2 side, FC Istres who gave him a contract.

Within one year of his involvement with Istres, he had been spotted by Austrian Champions, Red Bull Salzburg, who couldn’t wait to have Keita within their ranks. In 2014, the Guinean eventually joined RB Salzburg. Keita helped Salzburg win the league and the Cup double in his first season. The diminutive midfielder was an integral member of Adolf Hütter’s successful 2014-2015 team that dominated Austrian football. He won the Austrian Bundesliga and Cup, back-to-back before Leipzig came calling.

When RB Leipzig earned automatic promotion to the Bundesliga, they sought for a midfield enforcer, a midfielder who could do the job of two men. They found that in Naby Keita. Given that he was already on the books of sister club, Red Bull Salzburg; it was quite easy to lure Keita to come play in the Bundesliga with RB Leipzig.

Naby Keita – Leipzig’s workaholic in midfield

At RB Leipzig, Naby Keita joined up with brilliant midfielders such as Emil Forsberg, who himself, has been a revelation this season. Also, he linked up with Marcel Sabitzer and Diego Demme who have been excellent, too. In the midst of these highly talented midfielders, Naby Keita has been the go-to guy for all the dirty work deep in midfield. He’s also added some extra muscle to the attack with plenty of skill on show.

Naby Keita seemed made for the RB Leipzig team from day one. Playing as a box-to-box midfielder or more as a defensive midfielder; he has worked himself to the ground on more than one occasion. The result of such hard work has been telling. On sixty-five occasions he has stepped in to make a vital interception for Leipzig. He has helped his team build the second best defence in the Bundesliga.

Naby Keita’s eagle eye for goal

Aside from chasing opponents all over the pitch, Naby Keita has demonstrated his sixth sense for goal. On many occasions this season, he’s scored or created superb goals for Leipzig. Perhaps that’s the one area where he betters Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante. He was on song as RB Leipzig secured a Champions League place by
beating Freiburg 4-nil at home. Keita popped up with a well-timed finish to bring the score to 3-nil.

The 22-year-old Guinean midfield maestro has had a hand in fifteen of Leipzig’s fifty-five Bundesliga goals this season. His eight goals and seven assists mean he has been involved in 27% of RB Leipzig’s entire goal haul in the Bundesliga this term. That’s the most by any defensive midfielder in Europe’s top five divisions.

Does the Bundesliga recognize Naby Keita?

Naby Keita has been Leipzig’s midfield general. His smooth style of play is complemented by an energetic ability to cover the ground for two men in Leipzig’s 4-2-2-2 system. Keita has attempted the most successful dribbles in the Bundesliga this season. WhoScored puts the figure at 2.8 dribbles per game; Arjen Robben comes second at 2.3 dribbles per game.

Naby Keita was named in the Bundesliga matchday 29 team of the week. The former Salzburg man absolutely deserves it. He’s scored great goals for RB Leipzig and should be a top contender for Bundesliga Player of the Season. I’d be disappointed if he doesn’t make the team of the season at least.

About the Author Kingsley

I am a football/soccer connoisseur who enjoys crafting interesting articles like the one you just read.

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