Just like his team being joint-top of the league, the development of Naby Keita into a leading Bundesliga midfielder has caught many observers off guard.
Fewer and fewer people will now be asking who the driving force in the RB Leipzig engine is these days, however, particularly if Keita and his side can steal a dramatic march in the title race by winning at the home of the champions, FC Bayern München, on Wednesday. Speaking to French football magazine L'Equipe, Keita gave his thoughts on Leipzig's incredible journey, his own progression as a player and his team's chances of success at the Allianz.
Question: Do you and the team recognise the extent of your journey since the start of the season?
Naby Keita: Absolutely. It was not until Matchday 14 until we tasted defeat [a 1-0 loss at FC Ingolstadt 04] after eight straight wins. This is an outstanding performance. But basically we have earned it because we work hard. At Leipzig, we do not cut corners. We can do something big.
Question: What is the secret of this success?
Keita: Solidarity at every level within the club. When I arrived in July from FC Salzburg, I felt that immediately. At the club, we spend all day together, from breakfast until the evening. The players see each other socially. It is an advantage that we are of the same generation and therefore have similar passions such as music or the Playstation. This camaraderie is our strength.