After pursuing RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita all summer, Liverpool have finally gotten their man, although the deal they’ve agreed with the German club will see Guinea midfielder stay with Leipzig for one more season before joining the Reds.
Keita is set to undergo a medical on Monday to finalise the deal.
The midfielder’s release clause next summer is set at £48million but Liverpool’s offer exceeds that, it is understood.
Here are five things you may not have known about the 22-year-old.
SECOND-BEST PLAYER IN THE BUNDESLIGA
Keita was among the stars during Leipzig’s stunning debut season in Bundesliga last year, when they finished second.
Timo Werner and Emil Forsberg initially hogged the limelight, but as the season progressed, Keita was rightly praised as one of the standout players in the team, and was ultimately named to the Bundesliga Team of the Season by 70% of voters, second only to Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski (75%).
By comparison, Bayern midfielder Thiago Alcantara, who was widely regarded as one of Europe’s best midfielders last season, only got 59% of the votes.
MASTER OF THE TAKE-ON
Keita’s reputation as a tidy and incisive passer is well-deserved, but it can sometimes mask another key aspect of his game. He’s skillful dribbler, and completed 83 take-ons in the 2016/17 Bundesliga season. That mark puts him at the top among midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues.
YAYA TOURE IS HIS IDOL
For the previous generation of African footballers, players like Samuel Eto’o and Didier Drogba were the players everyone looked up to, but Yaya Toure has certainly lifted himself to that tier for the latest generation.
Keita is one of those who cites the Man City midfielder as his idol, and given the similar styles of play, there’s no reason why the Guinean can’t go on and emulate his Ivorian counterpart.
SAME AGENT AS LIVERPOOL’S SADIO MANE
It’s become common for players who have the same agent to try influencing each other to join the same clubs, and that scenario has played out with Keita. He and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane have the same agent, Bjorn Bezemer.
Bezemer was instrumental in forcing through Mane’s move to Southampton from Red Bull Salzburg, Leipzig’s sister club, in 2014, and has pulled off the same tactics to complete Keita’s move to Liverpool.
LIVERPOOL A STEPPING STONE?
While it’s been clear that Keita has wanted a move to Liverpool all summer, his stay at Anfield might be a short one. He has previously said he sees himself at a club like Barcelona, Real Madrid, or Manchester City.
That could mean that in a few seasons’ time, Keita could be the subject of a transfer saga yet again.