Liverpool should target £36m midfielder as Naby Keïta alternative

Liverpool should target OGC Nice midfielder Jean Michael Seri as an alternative to Guinean star Naby Keïta according to Jack Hallows.

It’s just not happening, is it?

Naby Keïta looks set to remain stuck in Ralf Rangnick’s prison for young, talented footballers – also known as RB Leipzig – for another year as the German club continues to refuse to sell the Guinean.

Fair play to them. They’re an up and coming, exciting young footballing side going into their first Champions League campaign.

So what does that mean for Liverpool? Time to move on – for now anyway.

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Let’s be honest, after Rangnick’s “village” comments, he’s not signing a new contract and while enough time has been wasted on trying to prise him away this summer, we can always try again when his release clause is activated in the summer of 2018.

Good luck keeping him then, Leipzig.

In the mean time, Liverpool do actually have a very strong midfield, however, you get the feeling that we’re just one injury away from having a few real problems in that area. With Henderson, Lallana and Can all proving fairly injury-prone last season, that could become a very, very prominent issue.

Squad depth is never a bad thing – especially when it’s quality.

Reports today emerged from Germany suggesting that Liverpool had joined the plethora of clubs chasing after Renato Sanches’ signature if they could get Bayern to agree to a permanent deal. In my opinion, Sanches is great and all but Liverpool should be targeting a different midfielder this summer.

Jean Michael Seri of OGC Nice to be exact.

Now, on paper, Seri looks a very similar midfielder to Naby Keïta but on paper, Naby Keïta looked a very similar player to N’Golo Kante in a lot of respects.

The reality is, Seri is actually a far more attacking minded midfielder than Keïta and was regularly fielded further forward than the Guinean and even though statistics don’t show the whole picture, they give a rough idea of the differences between the two.

Seri’s output in terms of direct goal involvement was actually very similar to the Leipzig midfielder’s last season, with the Ivorian scoring 7 league goals to the Guinean’s 8 and assisting 9 league strikers for teammates to Keïta’s 7. In total, 16 to 15.

In fact, in terms of attacking play and overall creativity, Seri comes out on top.

While he attempted far fewer dribbles than Keïta, the Ivorian completed 84.62% of his take ons to the Guinean’s 65.81% and outshines him massively when it comes to keeping play ticking over in the midfield. Seri completed 2447 passes in Ligue 1 last season at a pass completion rate of 90%, creating a total of 73 chances for his teammates with most of those coming from areas just outside the penalty box.

Liverpool’s lack of penetration against deep-lying defences last season saw them crying out for an extra creative force in their midfield trio and while Philippe Coutinho has been moved into a deeper role – and thrived to be fair – the addition of Seri would mean the Brazilian isn’t forced to shoulder quite as heavy a burden.

While not quite as adept on the back foot as Keïta, he’s still no slouch defensively.

The Ivorian international averaged 2 defensive actions per game last season in the Ligue 1, making 28 interceptions and also completing 22 tackles. At 26 years of age, the midfielder is at a stage where certain areas of his game are still able to be developed by capable managers and there aren’t many more capable in world football than our Jürgen Klopp.

There’s also the matter of price.

Seri is believed to be available for £36m, half of what Jürgen Klopp was said to be ready to offer for Naby Keïta and holds an active release clause in his contract.

If reports are to be believed, the club may have to compete with interest from Arsenal and FC Barcelona but if anything, that just tells you how highly the player is rated.

Everyone is going to have their opinion on what Liverpool should do now that they’ve seemingly missed the boat on signing Naby Keïta but for me, Jean Michael Seri would provide us with the perfect alternative.

Add in a certain Dutch centre back alongside him and I could certainly call this window a success.

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