Date: 20th June 2017 at 2:31pm
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In January, a little known French youngster walked into St. Andrews. Just 24 hours after being confirmed as a Blues player, ‘Chieck Keita` was the most commonly entered Youtube search in this part of the world.

Then manager Gianfranco Zola sang the praises of the 20-year-old Parisian and, if his Youtube videos were anything to go by, Blues had found themselves some player.

After waiting patiently for his chance, Keita was thrust into the first team for Fulham`s visit to B9 – ironically, Zola`s first victory as Blues boss. Playing left wing back, Keita was an instant hit with the fans. Not only did he provide the cross which led to Lukas Jutkiewicz`s match winning goal, he was also awarded ‘man of the match`.

Keita, now 21, went on to make a further nine appearances in royal blue last season – a very mixed bag. Playing in the Championship is a learning curve for young players and, at times, he found that out the hard way.

For a player with undoubted technical ability, Keita can be somewhat eccentric. He brings the fans to their feet with his exciting brand of attacking play – from step overs, to Cruyff turns. The underlying issue with Keita, though, is his defensive naivety.

First and foremost, he is a defender. Too often during his ten appearances, he was turned inside out by wingers who targeted him as a weak link at the back. He would find himself out of position after chasing a misplaced pass or would be too eager to commit himself to tackle. But more often than not, Keita`s defensive flaws come with his tendency to dribble his way out of trouble.

The dilemma for current manager Harry Redknapp is whether to take the reins off and turn him into a wide attacking player (see Gareth Bale) or to work with him and prioritise the defensive part of his game.

Redknapp may consider sending Keita out on loan to gain valuable first team experience. On the other hand, the gaffer may want to mentor a player who has all of the attributes in his locker to be a top class footballer.

 
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