6 Naby Keita alternatives who Liverpool could sign instead this summer
1. Leon Goretzka (Schalke)
Statistically speaking, Goretzka comes closest to matching Keita's impressive numbers, particularly in the defensive phase of the game. Both players made 2.6 interceptions and 0.9 clearances per match last season, although the RB Leipzig star averaged more tackles than his Schalke counterpart (2.6 vs 2.2).
Goretzka is a dominant figure in the air and is also renowned for the excellent timing of his runs
The 22-year-old German contributes going forward, too: he scored five goals and provided three assists last term. He was perhaps a little unfortunate not to record more of the latter, with his average of 1.1 key pass per match only slightly worse than Keita's 1.3, which translated to seven assists.
At 6ft 2in and unlike the Guinean, Goretzka is a dominant figure in the air and is also renowned for the excellent timing of his runs. The youngster was linked with Bayern Munich and Arsenal during last month's Confederations Cup, in which he netted three goals. He's only got a year left on his contract and will be hot property soon enough, so Liverpool should watch his situation carefully.
2. Jean Michael Seri (Nice)
Seri was one of the main reasons why Nice were able to compete for the Ligue 1 crown last season. The 26-year-old was the conductor of his team, scoring seven goals, providing nine assists and pulling the strings in midfield.
Seri might not be able to match Keita’s contribution in defence, but he certainly outshines him in terms of creativity
The Ivorian is a versatile, well-rounded midfielder who's very difficult to dispossess. His brilliant off-the-ball movement means he's always an option for his team-mates, and is proactive in possession despite a 90% pass-completion rate which suggests conservatism. Seri might not be able to match Keita’s defensive contributions, but he certainly outshines him in terms of creativity: the Nice maestro’s vision is better, and his 2.2 key passes per game surpass Keita’s 1.3.
Arsenal and Tottenham have both been mentioned as potential suitors, but it appears that Roma have come closest to signing him this summer. The Serie A side haven't yet met Nice's €40m demands, however, which could open the door for Klopp and Liverpool.
3. Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid)
Kovacic is another player who has been heavily linked with a move to Anfield before. For the majority of teams across the continent, the Croatia international would be an automatic starter; Real Madrid, though, are not like most teams on the continent, and Kovacic has struggled to break into the starting XI since joining from Inter in 2015. With the arrival of Marcos Llorente and Dani Ceballos this summer, there's a strong possibility that he will find it even more difficult to make his mark at the Bernabeu next season.
It’s difficult to determine the Croat’s best position in midfield, as he can perform admirably in a number of roles thanks to his energy, dribbling skills, tactical intelligence and wide range of passing. Signing Kovacic would provide a huge boost to several top teams, and Liverpool are one of them.