Liverpool have taken a giant step forward in agreeing terms with Red Bull Leipzig midfield general, Naby Keita, according to Reds fan site Empire of the Kop.
Keita, who has all the attributes essential to linking defence and attack in Jurgen Klopp’s side, has been associated with the Anfield team for several weeks now. Today’s report suggests that he has agreed personal terms of £130k per week with Klopp, with both awaiting the outcome of ongoing transfer negotiations between the clubs.
The same article goes on to highlight some extraordinary insight that an anonymous German data statistician has provided on Keita, via the popular site, Reddit.
“I am very fortunate in my current job to be privy to a large amount of soccer data (metrics, advanced stats, etc.). I do not feel comfortable going into more detail on this, and I understand the skepticism that will accompany that claim; it is why I don’t often comment on reddit. However, last summer I felt compelled to comment just once about a young midfielder who is absolutely off the charts in regards to nearly every advanced metric that grades players. He even scored exceptionally high across separate midfield positions, which means that no matter what qualities were weighted highly in the metric (tackles for dm, impactful passes for am, etc.) he scored well. I won’t go into a whole lot of specifics about his stats, but I do want to mention one particular metric that makes him an extremely valuable player.
Packing – A metric which tries to determine the value of a pass or dribble by evaluating how many defenders it “takes out of the game”. Basically, how many defenders are in between the ball and the goal when a player receives the ball, and then how many still are when the next player receives it. Packing is very intuitive, and it’s something most viewers can notice while watching. The most well known company producing this data can be found here if you would like to read more about it. (also just google it, there are plenty of helpful articles)
Keita has absolutely incredible packing numbers. Even if most of his passes may look normal, he seems to always find a way to create a slight imbalance between offense and defense. He always picks the most impactful pass to give the attack whatever advantage can be gained based on current defender positioning. If you want to see an example, watch some of his full game highlights and take a look at how many times he is able to breakthrough the midfield “barrier” and push the ball into the space behind midfielders and in front of defenders. If you have watched Liverpool play under Klopp, you know how frustrating it is to watch a team have possession but be unable to exploit those gaps effectively to put pressure on a set defense.”
The hope amongst Liverpool fans is that the Guinean player can have a similar effect to N’Golo Kante, who of course won Premier League titles with Leicester City and Chelsea in the previous two seasons. With Mo Salah’s signature secured and work presumably ongoing on the acquisition of Virgil van Dijk, July could turn out to be a huge month in the strengthening of Klopp’s first eleven.
Watch this space…