Football opinion

Naby Keita can replace Coutinho effectively

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It is the height of praise when a player has been labelled a mix between N’Golo Kante and Andres Iniesta. Almost hard to believe given that both players play different styles of football but in Naby Keita, there is a player adept at playing the anchorman role and can also much more going forward.

With the exit of Phillippe Coutinho to Liverpool for a mammoth £142m this week, Liverpool have been exploring the possibility of fast tracking the signing of RB Leipzig all-action midfielder, Naby Keita. Liverpool made a huge statement of intent by signing the 22 year old Guinean player for £48m, only that the caveat was he would join the Merseyside outfit this summer.

Liverpool have been told to pay an extra £13m to bring him to Anfield this winter, which would take the overall coat to around £61m. While Coutinho is the archetypal creative midfielder, Keita will offer more solidity in the middle but is also adept at creating chances for his teammates.

Last season’s surprise packages in the Bundesliga, RB Leipzig were so successful using Keita in a box to box role where he excelled, so much so that fans who were looking for how to make money from home got huge amounts from their bets on the team.

It is believed Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp rates Keita as the main key to performing the role Ilkay Gundogan performed to brilliance in their time at Borrusia Dormtund: pressing high, winning the ball and moving with alarming speed to launch wave after wave of attack in the opposition half.

Liverpool have a number of players that can play the Coutinho role with Adam Lallana most expected to benefit from his exit. The England international is not quite as good with the ball technically but alongside Keita, will create that defensive balance the Reds are craving for.

Too many times does the Liverpool midfield wilt under pressure from imposing opposition players but N’Golo Kante has shown that size doesn’t matter when it comes to doing the defensive midfield job. Keita stands at just 5ft 4in, but offers a role that Michael Essien did at his pomp at Chelsea.

Liverpool will miss Coutinho, but in Keita, they have a chance to alter their style and play the heavy metal, gegenpressing methods that Klopp favours.

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