Things to know about Liverpool's record buy Naby Keita including the Brazilian legend he's nicknamed after

David Cooper 29/08/2017
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Liverpool agreed a reported club record fee of £48million for Guinea international midfielder Naby Keita with German side RB Leipzig.

The 22-year-old will join the Premier League side in time for next season.

Here are five things on the young star.

BALDE FACTS

Not many Guinean players have made it into the top tier of British football though Keita is not the first to play for Liverpool as Titi Camara turned out for the Reds for the 1999-2000 campaign before moving to West Ham.

However, it was thanks to another Guinean that Keita got the chance to make his way in European football. Hardman defender Bobo Balde – who played with distinction for Celtic from 2001-09 – organised a talent-spotting contest in the French city of Marseille, which Keita attended almost out of desperation after being rejected by Le Mans and Lorient.

Ligue 2 side Istres saw enough to take a punt on him for the 2013-14 season and he displayed enough raw talent for Red Bull Salzburg to sign him after that campaign.

Guinean Bobo Balde (R) vies with Senegalese Henri Camara (L)

Guinean Bobo Balde (R) vies with Senegalese Henri Camara (L)

EXPENSIVE HABIT

Growing up in Conakry, he and his brothers played football in the street but equipment was hard to come by and being from an impoverished background food and other household goods were always the priority when his mother went to the shops.

However, that didn’t prevent the football-mad Naby from being the proverbial bull in a china shop as he told www.bundesliga.com last season.

“I always looked forward to going to the supermarket with my mother,” he explained. “There were a lot of round things to play football with. Unfortunately, there were also things like lampshades, which got broken. My mum always says that shopping with me was very expensive!”

IVORIAN LEGENDS IS HIS TOURE DE FORCE

Balde may have been his saviour but for Keita it is Manchester City’s Ivorian four-time African player of the year Yaya Toure who is his role model – they are both box-to-box midfielders – and whom he wishes to emulate in terms of being acknowledged as the continent’s greatest player.

“I want to be the best African footballer,” he has said. “My idol from Africa is Yaya Toure… he’s strong, works hard and has made it to the very top.”

‘AFRICAN DECO’

Small in stature, he has earned comparisons with two-times Champions League winner Brazil-born Portuguese pocket rocket Deco and been tagged as ‘The African Deco’.

Indeed he has now dropped his middle name Laye and inserted Deco instead. Like Deco, Keita makes up for his lack of physical presence with wizardry and artistry on the pitch, creating scoring opportunities and also equally adept at scoring a few too.

Deco in action for Chelsea against Liverpool in 2004

Deco in action for Chelsea against Liverpool in 2004

FEET ON THE GROUND

Despite his success Keita has not forgotten where he came from and he likes nothing better when he returns to Guinea than to chat about football with his childhood friends with whom he used to kick the ball about with in the streets of Conakry.

His dream evening too is to have dinner with his mother and he acknowledges how fortunate he has been to succeed where so many African players’ dreams founder saying if he had not made it he would “probably, like my father, repair motorcycles.”

Provided by AFP Sport

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Arsenal have no leadership in the boardroom and it's being replicated on the pitch, says Mikael Silvestre

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Arsenal are a well-known English club with a lot of financial power, they should be challenging for the Premier League title and European trophies every season.

But there is a lack of a clear decision-makers in the club; it’s an ownership that is like a ghost ship.

We only hear of Stan Kroenke buying shares or Alisher Usmanov buying shares or a billionaire like Aliko Dangote apparently wanting to buy the club. What direction the club is taking and what the objectives are… there is never any discussion about that.

It’s about how the financial health of the club, how the move to the Emirates has been managed, we don’t hear anything about what the owners want to achieve.

There is no leadership or direction in the boardroom and that is being replicated on the pitch.

Arsenal's US owner Stan Kroenke

Arsenal’s US owner Stan Kroenke

CEO Ivan Gazidis has tried. He spoke of this summer being a “catalyst for change”, but he was on his own, and nothing happened.

Yes, Jens Lehmann arrived as assistant coach and the nomination of Per Mertesacker as academy director but that was it.

You can’t take strong decisions and apply a strategy if there are no instructions from above. The only direction seems to come from the fans. They know what they want.

The hardest part is no resolution seems to be in sight because there is no certainty on what is expected from the manager or the team. There are no rules and it’s a mess.

In England there is a big barrier between the board, the directors and the players. It’s very different from the rest of Europe where you have a director of football who comes into the dressing room and has a relationship with the squad.

Everybody has there own job to do but if there is no link between the different levels, it’s difficult to make decisions and keep the strategy in place throughout the club and over a sustained period of time.

PLAYERS ALWAYS CARE

There are a lot of things that are concerning on the pitch for Arsenal but I don’t believe that it’s because of the players apparently not caring or that they are quitters.

You never want to be in a dressing room after a 4-0 defeat, on the coach or having a 15-day break where everyone is talking about the defeat at Liverpool.

Firstly, you have your pride and your ego. Then, the atmosphere in the team is not healthy and it can lead to players criticising each other, and nobody wants to work in that environment.

Everyone was trying but there were too many question marks before the start of the game: on the formation, the tactics, the selection of players; it all comes down to the decision making.

I think the players were doubting themselves and couldn’t believe they could overcome Liverpool.

Maybe, unconsciously, if each  player is at 99 per cent in terms of concentration, focus and determination, that means the team is instantly 11 per cent less than Liverpool.

Mesut Ozil looks dejected during the defeat to Liverpool

Mesut Ozil looks dejected during the defeat to Liverpool

Arsene Wenger’s gameplan should have changed. We criticise Jose Mourinho but sometimes you have to play deeper as a unit and try and contain the opposition, not stay so open for 90 minutes. Especially if confidence was low after the Stoke result. Sometimes it’s a boxing match.

Liverpool will commit players forward and make their own mistakes at the back. Try to limit the pressure and then with Alexandre Lacazette and Olivier Giroud on the bench, try and steal a win in the second-half. That would have been my approach – do to Liverpool what they were trying to do to you.

But this is not Wenger’s style. He is stubborn: ‘This is my way, this is Arsenal way’. But you have to accept Liverpool are the strongest in the league in attacking in transition and you can copy and paste the four goals – they were all the same.

But this will not be dwelled upon. Arsene is a manager who is always positive and he will be focusing on the Bournemouth game. Thinking they can play the same way and bounce back.

He doesn’t believe in finger-pointing or singling players out for their errors. There won’t be any video sessions pouring over that disaster. He won’t see that as productive. He thinks he will put negatives in players’ heads by doing that.

PARIS IS PERFECT FOR MBAPPE

I’m surprised that Kylian Mbappe has stayed in Ligue 1 because once you have won the league and all the top clubs in Europe are knocking on the door, it must be very tempting to want to go to Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich and test yourself, but this is a very positive move for him.

He has a chance to win the Champions League playing alongside Neymar and Edinson Cavani and is going back to his roots in Paris with his family and friends.

He has a real chance to play and impress France coach Didier Deschamps, who will be watching PSG more than he would teams outside France, and therefore be part of the 23 which go to Russia next year for the World Cup.

It’s a move which carries the least amount of risk because he stays in France so doesn’t need to acclimatise to a new country, language, culture or style of football. He knows everything already.

The pressure in Paris is on Neymar and he will take some of the attention off him. If he had gone to Madrid for the same amount of money it instantly puts more pressure on him.

His best position right now is wide, just off the striker. Which is where he should play at PSG.

Where he needs to improve most is as a targetman with his back to goal. But that will come with experience and he will have chances to do this in a league he knows.

Thierry Henry developed as a winger and then became a proper No9. I think Mbappe will follow a similar path and will end up being able to play all three positions in attack.

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Man City make stunning player-plus-cash offer to Arsenal for Alexis Sanchez

David Cooper 29/08/2017
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Manchester City have lodged a stunning bid for Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez by offering cash plus Raheem Sterling.

The Gunners have been resolute in their stance to not sell the Chile international but according to the Mirror, City will use Sterling as a sweetener.

Sanchez is into the final year of his contract and Arsenal risk losing him on a free with the 28-year-old already rejecting a new deal.

The report in the Mirror says contact between the clubs has been made and City have lodged their shock offer, although the Gunners may only be tempted to selling for around the £70million mark, which has not been offered in cash by the Manchester club.

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