Chelsea

Transfer Battles: Mateo Kovacic vs Naby Keita

Chelsea and Liverpool supporters are eagerly anticipating the meeting between the two sides in the Premier League this weekend, just a matter of days after their encounter in the Carabao Cup.

Maurizio Sarri’s Blues got the better of the Merseyside giants 2-1 at Anfield on Wednesday to potentially strike a psychological blow ahead of their meeting at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, although they will have to re-discover their winning touch in the league after only drawing 0-0 at West Ham last weekend.

Yet winning hasn’t been a problem for Jurgen Klopp’s Reds this season having tasted success in all six of their league games so far, thus propelling them to the summit ahead of arguably their toughest test of the season in West London this weekend.

Nonetheless, both sides will hope to keep improving as the season wears on having been reasonably busy during the summer transfer window, with the Blues landing the likes of Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic, while Klopp lured the likes of Fabinho and Naby Keita to Anfield.

And it’s the additions of messrs Kovacic and Keita who are of particular interest, so let’s see how the duo compare…

Mateo Kovacic

Croatia international Kovacic made the move to Stamford Bridge on loan from European champions Real Madrid this summer, and early indications suggest that the Blues have pulled off quite the coup.

The 24-year-old saw his game time reduced at the Bernabeu to thus prompt Sarri to lure him to West London back at the start of August, and he has so far been vindicated in his decision with Kovacic impressing for the 2017 league champions.

The Croatian star, who helped his country reach the World Cup final during the summer, has started their last four games in the Premier League to suggest that he is slowly but surely growing in prominence and influence in that Chelsea midfield, while he also appeared and indeed shone in their 2-1 win over Liverpool in the Carabao Cup in midweek.

The 24-year-old was one man linked with a move to Klopp’s side last summer only for no deal to materialise – yet their loss is without doubt Chelsea’s gain.

TT Verdict: A

Naby Keita

There was much excitement among Liverpool fans when 23-year-old Keita made the move from RB Leipzig this summer, with Klopp seeking to seriously strengthen his midfield ranks ahead of a Premier League title assault.

And the Guinea international has certainly proven his worth to the Reds in starting each of their opening three league games to great effect, showing a huge amount of energy and dynamism to be that box-to-box midfielder the Merseysiders have been crying out for.

However, the fact that he has been dropped in two of their last three Premier League games suggests that he still has a way to go before becoming a regular in Klopp’s starting eleven, with it arguable that the likes of James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum have raised their level since the 23-year-old’s arrival.

Overall though, there is little doubting that Keita has the capabilities to go on and become a top-quality midfielder at Anfield – one that could well help inspire them to the title this season.

TT Verdict: A-

The Verdict

Clearly, both of these midfielders look set to play a vital part in what success their respective sides have this season, with both slowly but surely getting to grips with the demands of the English top-flight.

Chelsea’s Kovacic has been very impressive in recent weeks and produced another fine performance against the Reds on Wednesday night, with the Croat seemingly getting the better of his opposite number Keita at Anfield.

The latter’s decent start to life in the Premier League in starting each of Liverpool’s first three league games appears to have tailed off slightly, but with 24-year-old Kovacic seemingly growing in stature as time goes on, the Reds may well have been better served landing him as opposed to 23-year-old Keita.

Liverpool and Chelsea fans… what do you think? Let us know!

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