FC Barcelona 2011/12 Season in Review: Seydou Keita

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 03: Seydou Keita of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Sporting Gijon at Camp Nou on March 3, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. FC Barcelona won 3-1. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Report: After playing a team high 56 games in the 2010-11 season Seydou Keita's playing time diminished severely to just 42 appearances - his Blaugrana career low. Due to the emergence of Thiago Keita lost a lot of the playing time he had last season in the center of the midfield. Keita still appeared there this season but it was a lot less than he was used to in the past.

Keita retained his status as a super sub again reaching the 20 appearances as a substitution plateau. When Barça was leading late in the game you always knew Keita was going to replace one of the midfielders in an attempt to close down space for the opposition. An assignment Keita handled professionally. Keita is the type of player that if you don't see him on the pitch then he's doing a good job and that was usually the case this season.

Despite spending nearly 600 minutes less on the pitch Kieta was remarkably well involved in goalscoring as he scored four goals, though still his worst goalscoring season in Barcelona, and added five assists, which was actually one more than the year before.

The Malian is a very unspectacular player but you can always expect solid defense from him. This season he often played as the defensive midfielder which is not Kieta's natural position. But because Sergio Busquets didn't have a natural replacement Keita was forced to take on the challenge. Defensively Barça didn't lose much, though Keita didn't move back to the heart of the defense as often as Busquets did, but on the attack Barcelona didn't have the fluidity it has with Busquets. Keita needed an extra second or two to decide to who to pass the ball to which made Barça more predictable.

But drawing a line under Keita's season it was another very dependable year for him - something along the lines fans (and coaches) expected from him.

Fcbsoul's View: Keita, famously known as Kiete to Culés, was that kind of player who you wouldn't mind if he started but when he did you wouldn't consider him to be the weak link. A muscle in the Blaugrana midfield. Not a super sub only for Sergio Busqeuts but also for Xavi. I remember his goal against Sporting Gijón - simply sensational. I wish him all the best. It feels weird now that he's not on the team but he had his valid reasons to leave. Goodbye Keite.

Moment of the Season: This had to have been one of the easiest decisions for me in the whole Season in Review series. But not because Keita only had one highlight of the season but because this one was one of the highlights of Barça's season. Keita scored the go-ahead goal against Sporting Gijón, and the eventual game winner, to then keep Barcelona's title hopes alive. Keita's golazo was voted the fourth best individual goal of the season by the Barca Blaugranes community.

Keita goal FC Barcelone vs Sporting Gijon 3-1 03/03/2012 (via Sardiii3212)

Stats:

Appearances 42
Games started 22
Started on the bench 27
Substitute in 20
Substitute out 5
Minutes played 2285
Goals scored 4
Assists 5
Shots 22
Shots on goal 9
Fouls committed 50
Fouls suffered 21
Yellow cards 5
Red cards 0

Record with Seydou Keita in the starting lineup: 15-7-0

2012/13 Outlook: Barça wanted to retain the services of Keita after his contact wasn't automatically renewed due to the fact that he didn't play enough to meet the automatic renewal criteria but Keita decided to move on, partially because of the astronomical rise in tax. Next season he will be playing in China for Dalian Aerbin. Good luck Seydou!

Next Up: Ibrahim Afellay, Jonathan Dos Santos, Sergi Roberto, Rafinha, Marti Riverola

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