With Liverpool in need of a new central midfielder, it’s little wonder they’re looking at Naby Keita.
The Red Bull Leipzig star’s stock has risen exponentially over the last 12 months during an impressive campaign that saw him score eight goals in 31 games for the Bundesliga’s surprise package.
Liverpool need to bolster their ranks ahead of a Champions League campaign and, while Georginio Wijnaldum did impress in a new ball-winning role last season, you have to feel Keita would offer an upgrade.
One problem for Jurgen Klopp’s side however is that Leipzig appear reluctant to sell and the Bundesliga Player of the Year runner-up is rated at whopping £70million.
After the success of N’Golo Kante as well as an impressive campaign from Victor Wanyama, it appears the top sides are desperate to find midfielders who can both break up the play and also bring the ball up the pitch quickly to help initiate attacks.
While Keita does fit the bill, there may be another option who can do that job for almost half the price.
Jean Michael Seri had an impressive campaign with Nice and has been attracting interest after a breakout season.
The Ivorian managed seven goals and nine assists for the third-placed finishers as they – like Leipzig – managed an unexpected title challenge and Champions League qualification.
Seri has also shown himself to be an all-rounder having managed 2.3 interceptions per game (as per Whoscored), making him an ideal fit for the Premier League.
What is more attractive is the fact that the 26-year-old is available for just £36million through a release clause, hinting a deal could be done.
Not only would Seri save Liverpool a chunk of money that could be used to strengthen elsewhere, but you get the impression it would be a less drawn out affair which would help him get settled in much faster.
Seri is arguably more likely to hit the ground running as well having already been in competitive action this campaign after providing the assist for Mario Balotelli’s goal in a 1-1 Champions League qualifying draw with Ajax.
In the current market, £36million doesn’t seem too unreasonable for a player of that calibre who still has a few seasons at the top level. His boundless energy and ability to chip in going forward would also make him a perfect fit for Klopp’s system.
Keita still appears to be Liverpool’s prime target, but has the interest in the 22-year-old and his meteoritic rise inflated his price tag? At £70million it seems likely, and signing him would make a move for the likes of Virgil van Dijk a lot more difficult unless Klopp sold a few players.
If Klopp wants to strengthen all aspects of his side however, Seri may well be the answer.