Almost a year in the making if we include Inters pursuit of Keita in the 2017 transfer window from Lazio but alas the winger chose the Principality, Monaco for a fee of an estimated €32 million. A year on, it’s safe to say his stint in Monaco was not as successful as he would have liked and Inter looked to have secured a loan with an obligation to purchase the player out right next summer for €30 million, a familiar story with most Italian clubs.
The Nerazzurri have been working on this deal for weeks, with reports flooding in Friday that a deal was close to completion with the two clubs coming to a mutual agreement. We’ve acquired a versatile player who plays across the front line and gives Inter a new dimension to their attack. He could come on for Mauro Icardi or play on either wing in place of Matteo Politano or Ivan Perišić.
Baldé was born to Senegalese parents in Catalonia, Spain. The young Spanish born winger rose up through the ranks of the esteemed La Masia academy in Barcelona but a practical joke played on a team-mate during a tournament in 2010 saw him reprimanded and sent on loan to feeder club UE Cornella.
He ended up scoring 47 goals for their academy side. After impressing the Barcelona brass, Keita was recalled back to Barcelona but rejected the offer alerting Europe’s top clubs of his availability; this earned him a move to Lazio for €300,000 in 2011. The rest is history as Keita seized his chances and earned a place in the first team where he continued to produce eye catching performances creating even more hype to his name.
What can we expect from the former Lazio man? His main strength lies in dribbling and his ability to accelerate and decelerate at will. Whether he cuts inside or stays wide his intelligence and pace will cause the best of defenders issues on his day. 30 successful takes ons in Ligue 1 last season shows his attacking intent even though this can be improved. Keita’s preference is to play short passes in the final third which is reflected with his 76% pass completion rate with Monaco.
The Senegalese winger is a predator in the box too; even after suffering from a relatively poor season with Monaco, Keita managed to score 8 goals and 5 assists in 23 Ligue 1 games. Injury and suspension has limited his appearances. His versatility showed by the number of games he played in different positions - 8 games at left wing, 6 games as a centre forward, 8 games at right wing and 1 game as second striker according to transfermarkt. The 2016/2017 season with Lazio yielded 16 goals and 3 assists in 31 games making him a proven goal scorer – someone Inter have been looking for to take the reliance of goals off Mauro Icardi. It may not be the best return but it shows his willingness to play direct and is not afraid to take shots at goal.
Every player has weaknesses and room to improve and it’s no different for Keita Baldé, there are parts to his game that need to be improved. During his last season with Lazio, Keita took 70 shots in total across the 31 matches, averaging just over two every fixture. When you consider his shot accuracy percentage is 56%, it’s important that this only improves as his career progresses. I still think Keita would want to improve on his goal scoring record and consistency right from the outset.
Now all we need is for the season to start and the team to develop chemistry with the new signings. Keita will want find his feet quickly at the San Siro and deliver stellar performances consistently and become the player that made him the most sought after commodity in Europe. Even with his shortcomings, I would bet on the 23 year old to shine for Nerazzurri; he’s young, experienced for his age, electrifying pace and attacking output. All he needs now is a wise head and a coach willing to back him and give him the license to play his natural game. He might not be the consistent performer we’ve been hoping for but he’s definitely a young and energetic winger that fits the mould of players we’ve signed this summer who can take club forward for years to come.
For now let’s welcome Keita Baldé and hope he can excite and score some beautiful goals. Forza Inter!
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