Look, I know we’re all psyched about the Champions League semi-finals — and we should be — and the fact that the team seem to be finding defensive solidity to go with their offensive potency just as the season is coming to the very pointy end, all while having the youngest squad in the league and a core of players that appear dedicated to the club in the long-term. It’s understandable to want to live in this moment. Healthy, even. Jürgen Klopp would approve.
However, things are going to happen in the summer. Regardless of how the Champions League roller coaster turns out, there is work to be done at season’s end in order to prepare the side for a run at Premier League gold next year. Some players will leave. Others will arrive. The work is already being done behind the scenes, and despite the exhilaration of potential trips to the Bernabeu or Olympiastadion or Allianz Arena, Reds fans are allowed to peek ahead to the upcoming season.
You see, Naby Keïta has already been signed, and boy should that get you excited. Liverpool made a deal with Red Bull Leipzig last summer, paying a fee on top of Keïta’s release clause in order to secure the Guinean’s signature a year in advance. The 23-year old was identified as a top target by Klopp and his transfer committee, and a quick look at his displays in midfield instantly reveals why.
Often billed as a pure ball-winner, Keïta is so much more, and while he sits in the top 15 of ball recoveries in the Bundesliga — having occupied a top ten spot last season — he is also third in completed dribbles, signifying his ability to progress the ball up the pitch. On top of this comprehensive two-way dominance in midfield, the Guinean international sprinkles end product, and he has contributed a total of 30 goals and assists in the past two seasons.
One of those assists came in Leipzig’s Europa League exit to Marseille on Thursday night, and it was a little piece of improvised art, the kind of stuff that will have the Kop on their feet in four months time, and that will further amplify Klopp’s already impressive transfer record.
Now, pick your head up from the Manchester City replays for a second and enjoy a glimpse of what our midfield will be adding next season.