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Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool were back to winning ways this weekend as they hammered Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs side to move within touching distance of a Champions League spot next season. The manager is already planning for life after the end of the season and has been looking at some star players to add to his squad in the summer. One name that is constantly doing the rounds recently is Keita Balde Diao from Lazio. The 21-year old has been a long-term target for the Reds for three years now but now it seems like Klopp is finally ready to make a move for the player in the summer. So who is this newbie and should Liverpool move for him?
Born in Arbucies Spain, Balde started his youth career at Damm in Spain before moving to the La Masia in 2004 as a 9-year-old. He was at the academy till 2011, marking his name as a potential star but moved on to Lazio after a spell on loan at Cornella without making a senior appearance at Camp Nou. He came into the spotlight during his season in Serie A last time around and ever since he moved to Italy, Balde has now made close to 100 appearances for the Lazio. He is an important part of the squad at the Stadio Olimpico but is up for sale in the summer and a host of European clubs are set to be fighting for his signature.
A left-winger by trait, Balde is capable of playing on the right wing and also as a lone striker but he is at his best when playing on the flanks. Known for his extraordinary dribbling abilities, the 21-year old is right up there with one of the most exciting players in Europe and his return of 6 goals and 2 assists in 13 starts for Lazio sums it up.
He is a genuine winger who loves to go past his man but he is equally adept at cutting inside onto his strong right-foot before finding his teammates in dangerous areas. His finishing is not up to the mark by any means but he makes up for it by playing the ball into threatening areas in the final third, that makes him a constant menace for the opposition. He also loves to put in crosses, with decent accuracy and so he can productive in a system like the one at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s side has lacked players who provide width to their attack as Sadio Mane is the only winger who can play this role in the current team. The Reds have faced problems in breaking the defences down when opposition decide to sit back and Balde could be the man who can turn it around for the Reds. He is capable of making things happen, and will constantly threaten the backline and this might help Liverpool break such defences down with ease. Mane on one flank and Balde on the other makes Liverpool’s attack one of the quickest in the league.
At just 21, Balde still has a few weaknesses in his game. His defensive contribution is a worry. Klopp needs all his players to play a role in his system going forward and defending their goal. Balde can be a weakness in this situation. However, at his age, it is not something that he cannot learn and with a man manager like Jurgen Klopp, he would have very little problem in developing into a world class player at Anfield.
Do you think Keita Balde Diao is the right option for Liverpool in the summer?