Naby Keita has been one of RB Leipzig's many success stories this season. The Guinea midfielder has had a direct hand in 10 goals despite playing between both boxes - and on the cusp of the Augsburg game, he plans to plunder many more…
bundesliga.com caught up with the nascent star to get his thoughts on the title race with Bayern Munich, and his hopes for Leipzig's latest trip to Bavaria.
bundesliga.com: Naby Keita, Leipzig have been Bayern's closest pursuers for most of the season. With survival presumably secure, are you now aiming to qualify for the UEFA Champions League?
Naby Keita: We're not thinking about the Champions League. There are still 12 games to go and we want to give it our all to keep bringing the same level of performance. Only then will we see where we are after Matchday 34, the final round of the season.
Watch: The unstoppable rise of Naby Keita:
bundesliga.com: This year may have started with two home wins, but then you lost back-to-back games. How did the team cope with that?
Keita: It was a learning process of sorts. Defeats are part of our development and the most important thing was to bounce back as quickly as possible. With the important win against Borussia Mönchengladbach [2-1 on Matchday 21], we managed to do that in the best possible way. Then we realised that, in spite of the defeats, our league position hadn't changed because the teams behind us had all dropped points. The wins against Gladbach and against Cologne [3-1 on Matchday 22] did us good and now I'm optimistic that we can continue to build on this little winning run.
bundesliga.com: You've scored four goals and picked up five assists this season – are you pleased with that return?
Keita: It's good enough, I suppose, but I know that I can do much better. I intend to do much better. I'm going to keep working hard to continue progressing. I'm the sort of person who is never happy and who constantly wants to improve. I could never just ease off and put my feet up. I want to improve a little bit every day.
Watch: Keita scores Leipzig's first ever Bundesliga goal, in the 1-0 win over Dortmund on Matchday 2:
bundesliga.com: Some opposition players have recently complained about your aggressive nature on the field. Are you an aggressive player?
Keita: That's perhaps true sometimes, particularly when the opposition have the ball. The thing is, to win the ball back you have to be aggressive.
bundesliga.com: There has been a lot of discussion of late about Dayot Upamecano, the young Frenchman who arrived from Salzburg. Is he the defensive reinforcement you were hoping for?
Keita: Dayot is still young , but he'll leave his mark here. He's working hard for that. I'm helping him settle in. He's hungry and I'm convinced that he'll get playing time. He has one excellent characteristic for a player of his age: he's patient.
bundesliga.com: On Friday you're playing Augsburg, in Augsburg. Can we expect another three points?
Keita: That's the aim. We want to make it three wins in a row, but it won't be easy. We only just won in the reverse fixture at home earlier this season [2-1 on Matchday 6], and it's usually tougher to win away from home. The Bundesliga is a very even league and in no game whatsoever have I been under the impression that it would be easy. Of course, Augsburg are in the bottom half of the table, but that makes no difference to us. We approach every opponent in the same way.
Keita: We always plan to win every game, but at the moment we're only concentrating on the upcoming opponent. We want to take things one step at a time. We'll give it our all to take nine points from these games, even though we know it'll be very tough to do so.