Naby Keita has some incredible dribble statistics this season. They show exactly what his role will be at Liverpool – should he fulfill his potential.
When you look at the Liverpool squad’s dribbling stats this season (thanks to Whoscored), one player stands out. Well, two – Sadio Mane has attempted 107 this season, 30 more than anyone else.
But Mane’s success rate is roughly in line with everyone else’s. 107 attempted, 69 successful, 38 unsuccessful. That’s actually very good compared to the rest of the squad but not truly remarkable.
Roberto Firmino, the next most, has completed 52 and failed 34. Mohamed Salah’s record reads 50 successes, 33 failures. Then there’s a little drop to Gini Wijnaldum, who has 38 successful dribbles and 30 failed ones.
But we’re here to talk about a player who has completed just 22 – and why that’s so staggering.
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Keita has completed 22 dribbles this year, six fewer than Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and only one more than Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold both have.
The truly remarkable thing, however, is that he’s only failed three. As in, he’s attempted 25 dribbles and completed 22 of them. No one even comes close to that kind of success rate.
Seeing as each full-back has almost the exact same number of completed dribbles, we should look at their stats.
Robertson: 21 successful, 20 unsuccessful.
Alexander-Arnold: 21 successful, 30 unsuccessful.
It’s important to remember, too, that Keita has played around half the minutes of Oxlade-Chamberlain this season. Keita has nearly made the same number of dribbles, though, being only six behind. And while Keita has failed with just three, his midfield rival has failed with 20.
On average, Keita completed 2.7 dribbles per 90 minutes. That’s the best in the squad by far. Mane sits in second with 2.3 then there’s a significant drop of 0.5 to the next first-team player, Oxlade-Chamberlain.
So here’s some perspective. If Keita kept his dribble average over the same number of minutes as Mane has played, his stats would read like this. 93 attempted dribbles, 82 successful, 11 failed. There’s no question that’s outstanding.
These dribble stats show how Jurgen Klopp can use Keita to his full potential. He stands out above everyone else in the stat, but particularly over other midfielders.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is somewhat comparable in attempts but comes nowhere close to matching Keita for consistency. And that makes the Guinean a true asset for the squad.
Keita has the ability to drive forward through midfield with the ball. He doesn’t always look to pass, nor does he just rush into space. He can move with the ball, take players on, and get the team pushing forward.
If he can keep that up and then maintain his current productivity (two assists and a goal in his last three starts), then Keita will be a fantastic attacking threat next season.
It’s important to have variety, after all. While Wijnaldum is great at keeping the ball and working hard, Jordan Henderson looks to pass long and stay disciplined. Oxlade-Chamberlain likes to utilise pace and direct running. We think Curtis Jones can be a goalscoring midfielder.
Keita, then, has an obvious role as a midfield dribbler. A player who can infiltrate packed midfields and get the team moving that way. He truly excels at it and, hopefully, Klopp can use that strength to fulfil Keita’s potential.