Harry Redknapp’s decision to loan out Cheick Keita and recruit Cohen Bramall always looked a pretty strange decision. The Malian may have had a lot to improve in the defensive areas of his game, but you could see the talent was there. In contrast, the Arsenal loanee looked out of his depth, and his eight appearances under three different managers showed he wasn’t up to the task.
When we signed Cheick from Virtus Entella for £1.5m, our scout Ewan Chester said at the time:
“I see him playing for an Arsenal, Chelsea or a Man United.”
Things haven’t quite worked for him so far, but it is important to remember he is only 22 years of age. His loan switch to Bologna was plagued by a groin problem that meant he missed the first three months of the season. Combined with his lack of experience, it meant he had limited game time under Roberto Donadoni.
He was however given his chance at the end of the season. He played the full 90 minutes against Juventus in 3-1 defeat earlier this month, while he was also given run-outs as a substitute against Sampdoria and AC Milan.
Following his relatively unsuccessful time in Italy, he will return to us for pre-season. It will be interesting to see what Garry Monk will make of him.
No doubt, he has the natural ability. Any fan who saw his drag-backs, stepovers and assortment of other tricks would testify to that fact. The question that will arise is where that talent can be best applied.
Like many, I think he should be deployed further up the field. He is not disciplined enough to play as a left-back, and with the club apparently close to signing another defender in Kristian Pedersen for that position, it would seem that avenue is closed to him anyway.
We are lacking in depth on the wing. Solomon-Otabor will strengthen our numbers in addition to Maghoma and Jota but Keita would offer something different. He would be a wildcard, and it would be intriguing to see how he performs with a longer run in the first team.