Naby Keita and the Long March of Capital


A Team of John O'Sheas

Jon Mackenzie looks into the context underlying the Naby Keita transfer saga and seeks to determine what it tells us about the current state of football.

The thing about Naby Keita is that he belies easy categorisation. There are, it has to be said, some people who liken him to Ngolo Kante: the same people, presumably, who confuse Romelu Lukaku and Stormzy. But it is, in fact, probably more helpful to categorise Keita by positioning him between the players whose skill-sets he shares. There is an element of Kante there—the metronomic capacity to come out of a tackle with the ball at his feet. If you look carefully, you can also see shades of Mousa Dembele, the proprietor of the greatest aptitude for breaking a press in the modern game. Add in the transitional qualities of Kevin de Bruyne and the emollient recycling of Luca Modric and you begin to…

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