The summer transfer business in the English Premier League is always, frankly, a little crazy.
Small clubs, even from small towns with limited fanbases, can outmuscle some of the biggest teams in Europe and beyond, as they reap the financial rewards from huge television deals.
With so much going on each summer, it was with very little media fanfare that Naby Keita completed his £62 million move to Liverpool from Red Bull Salzburg. As most of you will be aware, the deal was struck last summer for the Guinean to come to Anfield.
The fact that it was ‘old news’ meant Keita’s arrival wasn’t greeted with the same sense of excitement as the rest of Liverpool’s, admittedly excellent, signings.
Ambitious summer signings for the Reds
Alisson, for whom Liverpool paid a world-record fee of £67 million for a goalkeeper, Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri have all joined in recent weeks, but Keita may be the one who was worth the wait.
Liverpool were excellent for large portions of last season, reaching the Champions League Final and finishing 4th in the Premier League. They also came out on top against title winners Manchester City on several occasions throughout the league and European campaign.
However, there was still something missing from Liverpool’s season that meant scintillating attacking play did not always translate into victories, hence that 4th place finish.
The tenacity of Keita in the heart of midfield, coupled with his ability to link attack and defence might be just what the Reds need to put them over the edge this season.
Liverpool’s odds cut over the summer
Indeed, bookmakers have liked what they have seen over the summer at Anfield. The Reds are now second-favourites for the Premier title in 2018/19, coming in at 4/1 with several major bookmakers.
Those odds have dropped throughout the summer, while Liverpool’s rivals, such as Manchester United, have lengthened. The Red Devils can now be found as big as 12/1 with Black Type, which represents their biggest odds before the start of a new season since the Premier League began.
Still, Liverpool have a long way to go in the bookmakers’ eyes if they are to catch Man City, who finished on 100 points last season. Pep Guardiola’s side start as odds-on to retain the trophy, with a best price of 4/6 from Bet365.
That’s insanely low in what is cited as the world’s most competitive league, although fans of Premier League football can get better terms with these live stream betting offers from top bookies
Keita can link attack and defence
So, is Keita the man to change Liverpool from being a ‘B+’ to straight ‘A’ student? Well, he is part of the project that is leading to a growing sense of destiny around Anfield. He joins three other Africans in the squad: Joel Matip, Sadio Mané and Mo Salah.
With all respect to Matip, it is the latter two with whom Keita will be looking to strike up a fruitful relationship. The pair were dazzling last season and an integral part of Liverpool’s success.
Keita’s arrival is all the sweeter for Liverpool fans because he fulfils a need in the heart of central midfield, rather than being a luxury attacking player.
Liverpool had that in abundance last season, but Keita provides something different: A link man, a destroyer, an attacker and defender. He could become Liverpool’s key African player, and that’s saying something.