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Undaunted Liverpool Equally Inept at Signing Midfielders

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For Liverpool fans there's good news and bad. The good is at least the club tried to sign a midfielder in January. The bad is that, just like with their attacking targets, they failed.

Steve Haag

Liverpool may have rather publicly failed to land Mohamed Salah after chasing the Egyptian winger for more than two months. And Liverpool may have rather publicly failed to land Yevhen Konoplyanka after a wild scramble for the Ukrainian winger in the final days of the transfer window. But fans worried the club could only publicly fail to land wingers can now breathe a sigh of relief: Seydou Keita is here to let the world know Liverpool also failed to sign a midfielder.

The ex-Barca man has decided to return from his dotage in the Chinese Super League, where Dalian Aerbin were paying the midfielder nearly £12M a season to see out his final days as a footballer, and he's chosen Valencia as his temporary unretirement home. At 34 years of age it's no surprise Valencia have only handed him a six-month contract with a club option to extend it for another season. What's more surprising is the revelation Liverpool were offering him a similar deal.

"When we received the call from Valencia, talks with Liverpool were at a very advanced stage," Keita told reporters when he was unveiled by the Spanish club. "But then I told my agent we were going to Valencia. I did not doubt for a second. When I came to play at Mestalla with Sevilla or Barcelona I suffered a lot to win, because this is a really big club with fantastic fans. That is why I opted to come here."

Keita's familiarity with the club, having split his career between France and Spain before Dalian Aerbin wooed him eastward, serves as the likeliest explanation for the player choosing a mid table La Liga side closer to the drop than the top four over a new league and the bigger challenge of helping Liverpool to return to the Champions League. Despite only having six months guaranteed, Keita may also believe Valencia are more likely to keep him around next season if he performs well.

Liverpool showed last summer with the free transfer of Kolo Toure that they are willing to bring in the occasional veteran player if the cost is low enough, but there can be little doubt that Brendan Rodgers' interest in the player would have come about following Lucas Leiva's injury and with Keita seen as a strictly short term, stop-gap solution. All told, at Liverpool it was clear he was being brought in as emergency depth. At Valencia, he might have a chance at a real future, albeit a short one.

None of which explains how Liverpool managed to end the transfer window having signed no one and with a frighteningly thin midfield left unreinforced. Still, at least the club tried. Even if it was to bring in a 34-year-old who's spent the past year and a half in China and who in the end turned them down. So. A bit of bad to go with the good when it comes to the takeaway for Liverpool fans.