Naby Keita will join Liverpool at the end of the 2017/18 season. - © © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA / Boris Streubel
Naby Keita will join Liverpool at the end of the 2017/18 season. - © © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA / Boris Streubel

Liverpool-bound Naby Keita focused on success with RB Leipzig

He may have set his sights on a different future, but the here and now of Naby ‘Deco’ Keita has time for one thing and one thing only: RB Leipzig.

The twinkle-toed Guinean international has lit up the Bundesliga since the club's arrival last season with some truly sensational displays for the eastern side, helping the club to a runners-up spot in Germany’s top flight and a place in this season’s UEFA Champions League group stage in the process.

Operating predominantly as the engine of Leipzig's motor, Keita netted eight goals and weighed in with as many assists in his debut campaign at the Red Bull Arena, while his tireless running, lightning-quick feet and ability to find space in the most congested of situations caught the eye of football fans the world over.

Watch: Keita's top five Leipzig goals

His pass completion rate of 82 per cent, as well as a remarkable top speed of 32.7km/h, left opposition defences chasing shadows on numerous occasions, and provided head coach Ralph Hasenhüttl - who last season described the 22-year-old’s ability as “insane” - with a phenomenal asset who gained the most votes of any player in's Team of the Season vote.

If Leipzig supporters were in any doubt of Keita’s commitment to the club’s cause following confirmation of his move to the English Premier League, though, those fears have been allayed emphatically in recent weeks. After playing every minute of RBL’s opening two league games this term, the No. 8 opened his goalscoring account for the season in spectacular fashion against Hamburg on Matchday 3, smashing a rocket of a shot into the top corner from the edge of the box.

Not only did the Keita register on the scoresheet at the Volksparkstadion, he also won more challenges (20) than any other player on the pitch. Such industry and tenacity speaks volumes not only about the Conakry-born player’s talent but also his character.

“For the rest of my time at Leipzig, my commitment will remain as strong as it ever was,” Keita told Sport Bild last month. “Since I’ve worn the Leipzig shirt I’ve always given my all - and that will remain the case until the final whistle on my final appearance for the club. My future has been sorted now and I can fully concentrate on helping us achieve our objectives this season.”

There was no questioning Keita’s focus and desire against Borussia Mönchengladbach the following weekend, either. The former FC Salzburg man lifted the home crowd off their feet shortly after the half-hour mark with an eye-of-the-needle ball through to Jean-Kevin Augustin, who gave Hasenhüttl's charges a 2-1 lead. It was the type of pass Bundesliga aficionados have seen time and time again since last summer - and one which will fit seamlessly alongside the standards expected of the best players in the Champions League.

Watch: The unstoppable rise of Naby Keita

However, the evening would end on a sour note for Leipzig and Keita, who was shown a red card for a high, but accidental, challenge on Christoph Kramer not long after Lars Stindl had equalised for the Foals. Kramer required stitches for a facial wound but refused to blame Keita, who apologised to the German World Cup winner on his way down the tunnel.

He is already two games into a three-match domestic ban - having sat out last week's 1-0 reverse at Augsburg and the 2-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Matchday 6 - but Keita is not the type of player to let an incident like that derail his or his current club's ambitions.

"We succeeded brilliantly by finishing second [last season]” he told in June. "But we don’t want to sit back now. We will continue to progress and ride this wave of success for as long as possible."

Liverpool fans will soon have a new hero to worship, but not before he has helped power Leipzig to create more footballing history.

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