It was March 3rd, 2012 and FC Barcelona were tied 1-1 with lowly Sporting Gijon at the Camp Nou. David Barral had cancelled out Andres Iniesta's first-half opener, while a red card for talismanic centre-half Gerard Pique seemed to suggest that, for this particular night, luck was against the Blaugrana. Step forward Seydou Keita, with arguably the most memorable goal of his four year stint in Catalunya. His golazo broke the spirits of the Gijon defense, providing Barcelona with a crucial breakthrough in an eventual 3-1 win.
It was a memorable night in an otherwise forgettable season; but it was also one that typified Keita's time at the Camp Nou. Unassuming, hard-working but incredibly talented; Seydou Keita was the perfect team player, a phenomenal athlete and quite simply a great football player. They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder -- this is certainly true in Keita's case. His replacement, Alex Song, has been nothing short of disastrous for the bulk of his time at the club. The Barcelona midfield has lacked physicality ever since, perhaps one of their greatest weaknesses since Pep Guardiola's departure.
And so, when I read today that Seydou Keita -- a free agent following a brief spell at Valencia CF -- had signed a one year deal at UEFA Champions League qualifiers and Serie A runners-up, AS Roma, I couldn't help but feel as though FC Barcelona had missed a trick. Experience, versatility, a proven track record -- Seydou Keita had everything you could wish for, at least for a squad player and yet we passed up the opportunity to bring him back to the Camp Nou.
Continue at this rate Zubi and we might just have to endure another season of Alex Song after all...
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