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Talent Radar

Talent Radar Awards 2016-17: Best Young Midfielder – Naby Keita

For the fourth season running, the Talent Radar Awards recognise the best individuals across Europe’s top leagues across seven primary categories.

[Eligibility: As of 1st June 2016 – 21 years old and below for outfield players // 22 years old and below for goalkeepers]


Entering the Bundesliga, life for Leipzig couldn’t have been easy. Widely labeled the most hated team in all of Germany, Leipzig made their Bundesliga bow this season, and what an entrance it was. The side stormed into second place leaving established giants like Dortmund, Schalke, and Leverkusen far behind.

Key to this astounding success has been their energetic team, driven by the irrepressible Naby Keita. The 22-year-old Guinean was initially brought into the side as a defensive midfielder, but his energy and ability to be a master of all trades meant that Ralph Hassenhutl got some added protection in defence and a boost in attack. The midfield dynamo is perhaps the most important player in this Leipzig side, controlling the tactics & tempo of a young side that more than found it’s feet in the top division.

He’s proven his versatility too, at times covering for the creative head Emil Forsberg when he was suspended (and did a fine job of that too). Keita will be crucial for Leipzig next season as they look to keep up their fine run, and contend with the pressures of European competition as well. The midfielder has been ever-present this season, and his consistency is the sort that will be very difficult to replicate.



Keïta’s versatility to play in a range of central midfield and attacking midfield positions will be an asset to RB Leipzig. He can play in any of the three attacking midfield positions and although he may favour his right foot, he is certainly akin to using his left with relative ease.

At Leipzig, he will no longer be in a squad which is expected to dominate possession (unlike his previous club), however, with his fast passing and movement, a transition to a counter-attacking style of play should be incorporated into his overall game smoothly.

Read a full Scout Report on Keita here.


This is what Constantin Eckner of Spielverlagerung told Outside of the Boot on Keita:

“Naby Keita combines aggressiveness and dynamism, which makes him the perfect embodiment of RB Leipzig’s style. His highlight reels consist of successful pressing and counter-pressing attacks, line-breaking dribbles and moments of incredibly smart tactical movement.”

Here’s what Clark Whitney, writer with Bleacher Report, told us:

“Leipzig’s fairytale debut season in the Bundesliga would never have been possible without Naby Keita. Quick to close down space and with seemingly endless stamina, the 22-year-old is rarely found more than 10 yards from the ball. Keita has a wonderful passing range and a creative flair that make him effective at all depths of the pitch. It’s no wonder he’s become one of the world’s most coveted talents.”

And here’s what Lucas Swain, writer with FourFourTwo had to say:

“Seeing Keita thrive in Leipzig didn’t come as a massive surprise following his teachings of a similar philosophy in Salzburg, but Keita has since become instrumental to the Bundesliga’s most controversial outfit. Becoming the latest name to be projected to stardom after slipping through the Ligue 1 net following Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante, Keita energetic style of play has caught the eye of Bayern Munich and a string of Premier League clubs. Aged just 22-years-old, RB Leipzig would go well to find anybody of similar quality and style should they lose one of their most important assets to make their side tick, but with Champions League football on the horizon for the exciting project in eastern Germany, Ralf Rangnick can pray the Malian is the sentimental type.”


2016-17PlayerAge (at the time)NationalityClub (at the time)Current Club
1stNaby Keita22GuineaRB LeipzigRB Leipzig
2ndDele Alli21EnglandTottenham HotspurTottenham Hotspur
3rdTiemoué Bakayoko22FranceAS MonacoAS Monaco
2015-16PlayerAge (at the time)NationalityClub (at the time)Current Club
1stJulian Weigl20GermanyBorussia DortmundBorussia Dortmund
2ndDele Alli20EnglandTottenham HotspurTottenham Hotspur
3rdKingsley Coman19FranceBayern MunichBayern Munich
2014-15PlayerAge (at the time)NationalityClub (at the time)Current Club
1stNabil Fekir22FranceLyonLyon
2ndMarco Verratti22ItalyParis Saint-GermainParis Saint-Germain
3rdDavy Klaassen22NetherlandsAjax AmsterdamAjax Amsterdam
2013-14PlayerAge (at the time)NationalityClub (at the time)Current Club
1stKoke22SpainAtletico MadridAtletico Madrid
2ndRoberto Firmino22BrazilHoffenheimLiverpool
3rdRaheem Sterling19EnglandLiverpoolManchester City

Read all our 2016-17 Talent Radar Awards 

← Previous Award // Next Award →

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