Can Barça cater for Keita?

A second-string XI, one which incorporates Keita.

Seydou Keita will never generate the amount of shirt sales his more illustrious colleagues do. The Malian international isn’t just a tidy wave-breaker either, as he does an incredible amount of work off-ball. With Barcelona cavorting in a fluid 4-3-3, penetrative gaps for the opposition to expose often appear.

Keita excels in filling this unglamorous space, preventing oppositional counters, and ensuring the more gifted cogs in Pep Guardiola’s machine stay in the warzone.

The 30-year-old is also the master of surprise; making timed ghosts into the box while Lionel Messi and his width-maintaining flankers stretch the defence and draw two zonal markers apiece.

Keita doesn’t necessarily have to receive the ball on these darts. By dragging the second bank of an opposition’s 4-5-1 even deeper, he allows Xavi to pick passes, or the sanguine Gerard Piqué to stride forward. Continue reading