A conundrum called Keita

Although this season has turned into a bit of a damp squid - not quite as bad as a damp squib because we still have the champions league - all is not lost if we use the experience to improve and quickly return to winning ways.

The clear and obvious lesson has been we cannot depend on injury prone players. In fact we've seen they can completely derail an entire season. With that in mind, it's imperative we now sort the wheat from the chaff and move on those who we decide fit that criteria.

Today I'll mostly be looking at Naby Keita and asking, should he stay or should he go......

In 2017 we agreed to pay somewhere in the region of £50m to sign Keita who would then join us a year later. That left us with the impression Naby was set to become a world beater, and maybe he is. 

There are any number of things Naby may be good at. Not least of which interior design of medical treatment rooms as that's where he's spent most of the last two and a half years.

While briefly interloping as a football player however he has shown some promise and it's only fair, as well as prudent to consider such.

During the 2018/19 season Keita played 1817 minutes total which equates to 20 game's worth, spanned across all competitions, with 3 goals and 1 assist.

In 2019/20 he played 1425 minutes / 15 complete games, scoring 4 with 3 assists. And so far this season he's managed just 530 minutes - 5 whole games, scored no goals and made no assists.

That's the equivalent of 40 games in two and a half seasons, during which we played around 130 times. Meaning Keita took part in less than a third of all matches and chipped in with just 7 goals and 3 assists.

From the 7 games Keita has started this season, we've drawn 1, lost 1 and won 5. However in only one of those did he play a whole 90 minutes and for the most part it was closer to 60.

How much did Keita's inclusion contribute toward those five victories? Could our tactics, overall line-up and formation have played as big a part or more. Even if we judge favourably for Naby there is still the question of what that actually means.

My view is the jury is very much still out on how good Keita is. What isn't in question is we need someone in midfield who, via direct dribbling and link up play, can cut through teams who park busses. Adding some goals and assists of their own along the way.

After nearly three seasons riddled with injuries, I've seen enough to feel Keita isn't the answer and believe we should sell and replace him in the summer. That view will only be cemented should he before then suffer another injury and I feel we must now use him enough to find out.

Before you make up your own minds, consider this: We cannot compete with the likes of City in terms of squad depth. We don't have the resources, nor do we wish to try and filter money in via questionable means. This puts us at a disadvantage.

One way we can try and claw some ground back is by being meticulous, as well as ruthless in our squad management. I am not talking about culling players the second they pick up a nasty injury. Of course we stand by players in that respect. BUT we categorically should not sign players with poor injury records and must quickly move on any who develop that theme. Simple.

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