Name: Seydou Keita
Place of Birth: Bamako (Mali)
Height: 1.83 m
Weight: 77 kg
Seydou Keita became FC Barcelona’s first signing of the 2007/2008 season. The Mali international arrived from Seville to strengthen the centre of the Barça midfield.
Born in Bamako (Mali) on 16th January 1980, Seydou Keita comes from a footballing family. His
uncle, Kalif Keita, is considered to be one of the best players in the history of Mali, winning the
African Golden Ball in 1970, while his cousin Mahmadou Sissoko is also a well known footballer.
Keita started his career with Centro Kalif Keita of the Mali First Division (a training club for promising youngsters set up by his uncle) where he was spotted by Olympique Marseille. At 17 years old he followed in his uncle’s footsteps and signed for the French club.
Seydou Keita spent three years in the Marseille reserves before making his first team debut against Troies on 19th September 1999 in place of former Barça star Cristophe Dugarry. He also played his first games in the Champions League. A few months earlier, in April, Keita had been voted best player in the under-20s World Cup in Nigeria, ahead of players of the quality of Ronaldinho and Lampard. Mali were eliminated in the semi-finals by a Spain side led by Xavi and finished in 3rd place.
At the end of the season, Marseille coach Abel Braga decided to loan him out to Second Division Lorient to gain more experience. Keita played all 38 league matches and helped the team win promotion to Ligue 1. In the 2001/02 season, Keita spent time away with the Mali squad for the African Cup of Nations in Nigeria and Lorient went back down to the Second Division. The midfielder finished in 4th place with Mali, played in 21 league matches and helped Lorient win the French Cup 2002 and reach the final of the League Cup.
Lens, who had finished second in Ligue 1 and wanted to strengthen the team ahead of the Champions League, managed to obtain his services on loan for the 2002/03 season. He played a total of 38 matches in all competitions and scored 3 goals. His performances persuaded Lens to sign him and he spent the next 4 seasons at the club. His excellent performances led to his being voted second best player in Ligue 1 2006/07, behind Florent Malouda.
Now an established star, Keita moved to Sevilla in the summer of 2007, having spent 8 years in France. He played 31 of the Andalus club’s 38 league matches, 29 of them in the starting line-up. He scored 4 goals and demonstrated his ability to shoot from distance.
After a year with Sevilla, he became Josep Guardiola’s first signing in the summer of 2008. After an initial period of adjustment to the fast one-touch style of play in the Barça midfield, Keita started to become more important in the coach’s line-ups. He played 46 matches and scored 6 goals, some of them quite spectacular, such as the goal against Bayern Munich (1-1) in the Allianz Arena. The Mali international proved to be a reliable addition to the Barça midfield.
He is a regular for Mali and is one of the stars of the national team. He played in the African Cup in 2002, 2004 and 2008.
The Mali midfielder is a player who perfectly combines physical strength with technical ability and tactical awareness. Despite not being a forward, Keita also possesses a great shot with his left foot, especially from distance, which makes him a real threat to goalkeepers; the fifteen goals he scored in the two years before joining Barça are testament to that. The Malian has a lot to offer in midfield: he can play in a holding role as well as behind the attackers and can also play on the left. His height makes him effective in the air, either in defence or in the opposing penalty area.
2009/10 World Club Cup
2009/10 European Super Cup
2009/10 Spanish Super Cup
2008/09 Champions League
2008/09 Copa del Rey
1999 Player of the Tournament U-20 World Cup