“No one likes us…” Finding the Next Naby


He hasn’t quite reached Timo Werner levels in terms of getting all my love and affection, but when Bayern started touting for Naby’s signature, as I pointed out in the summary of the first half of season 2, I knew we had to start succession planning. Today’s post is all about that. Finding our replacement for Naby Keita.

The man himself


Here’s Naby. Now worth £17m, it’ll take much more than Bayern’s bid below to make me part with him.


Naby is our roaming playmaker in the DM slots, which sees him pretty much pop up all over the pitch. Tackling and intercepting at the back, winning the ball back in midfield, creating chances and very occasionally, scoring goals.

What I’m looking for

Stating the obvious here, but ideally I’d like a player with a very similar skillset to Naby. He is what he’s described as, a tireless midfielder with great stamina, work rate and teamwork. He’s got decent passing, dribbling and vision. He’s aggressive, can tackle well and is fairly pacy. He’s got technique and he’s excellent off the ball, too. Always available for a pass, and has the ability to play good ones when he gets it.

So you’re basically looking for a midfielder that can pretty much do everything?

Yes, yes I am. Well pointed out.

The candidates


There are a few candidates internally at the club that could potentially succeed Naby. Let’s have a look at them.



Having first appeared in the first die Zukunft post, Abouchabaka has now made the step up to the RBL 1st team, making 7 sub appearances across season 2. I called him out then as a potential successor to Naby, and I think over time, he still could be. He’s developing relatively well, and should continue that with some more game time in season 3. He’s naturally fit, has got pace, he can pass, tackle. Will he be the eventual successor to Naby? That I’m not entirely sure of yet.



A new arrival at the club. Our scouts liked him, our coaches like him. Me? I don’t think I’m quite there yet. He’s got potential, for sure. He’s naturally fit, and can pass a ball. He’s got a lot of work to do in order to play his way into contention for a 1st team spot. Let’s see how he progresses.


The internal candidates don’t look like they’ll be ready made to step into Naby’s shoes. Armed with £70m in my fizzy energy drink funded warchest, I’ve got my eye on a few transfer targets that could replace him.


Remember this? Probably not, but it appeared in the introductory post to the RBL save. I’ve written about the approaches I’m taking to scouting and training/development, but other than that I’ve outlined I’ll only be signing players that are 24 years old or younger and telling you who I’ve signed in both seasons, I haven’t gone any more into the approach I’m taking to recruiting players. In all honesty, I don’t think anyone I’ve bought over the two seasons so far has been good enough to step straight into my thinking for the 1st XI. They’ve all been projects. To replace Naby, I think it’s going to have to be someone ready-made for 1st team football. Going through the external candidates below should give you an insight into how I’m approaching the scenario of replacing one of our star players.



Stefano Sensi of Sassuolo (that’s fun to say), a similar age to Naby and available for £17m according to my scout report. His physical attributes are slightly worse, with an average of 11 compared to Naby’s 13. Agility being the attribute with the most difference there, Sensi has 13 compared to Naby’s 18, which I feel is personally one of his best qualities.

Sensi is more of a playmaker compared to Naby’s dynamic all-rounder in my opinion. Sensi’s attributes of 16 for passing, 16 for flair and 16 for vision are all better than Naby’s, plus he’s got the great dictates tempo trait, something that Naby doesn’t have but I feel he does anyway. He runs with ball rarely, would he play like Naby? I don’t think he would. Would that put me off buying him? I don’t think it would.



The thing that instantly stands out about Godfred Donsah is the physical aspect of his player profile. His average of 15 is superior to Naby’s 13, and he’s much stronger than Naby. The scouts say he’s available for anywhere in the region of £14-19m, and he’s a year younger than Naby. The average of his technical and mental attributes is exactly the same as Naby’s, 11 and 13, respectively. However, where Naby excels in technique, off the ball, teamwork and work rate, Donsah is more of a solid 12-14 across the board kind of guy.

He’s Ghanaian, so he’d be off to the African Cup of Nations when the time comes around too. He doesn’t have any traits but does have a professional personality which would be favourable.

I like Donsah, he’s a physical specimen. He won’t be my first choice though when it comes to replacing Naby.



Another player currently plying their trade in Italy, Amadou Diawara is at Napoli and our scouts reckon they’re currently unwilling to sell him. Diawara is similar to Donsah in that his physical profile is superior to Naby’s. He’s taller than Naby, at 6’0″, with better jumping reach and heading attributes, 14 and 11, compared to Naby’s 7s.

He’s best suited to a role as a ball winning midfielder, but I think his passing attribute of 15 and vision of 14 mean he could work as a playmaker too. His technique of 12 isn’t great, especially comparing against Naby’s 16.

He’s ambitious which fits quite well with the players we’ve currently got at the club, and he’s actually Naby’s midfield partner in the Guinean national team. He’s still just 21, so I think he could still improve on a few individual attributes. I really like the look of him.



Still only 23 in-game, it feels as though Leon Goretzka has been around for ages. We’ll have to fork out I think £40m at least if we want to sign him, but is he worth it to replace Naby? I think so.

Goretzka is superior or equal to Naby in 26 of the 36 attributes outlined across technical, mental and physical. He’s 6’2″, so he’s got a physical presence Naby doesn’t. He can pass, he’s hard working (a tireless midfielder, same as Naby), his technique is great, he’s determined, composed and aggressive. Plus, he’s resolute and dictates the tempo. Two big plus points.

Also, he’s German. So far, I’ve only brought two German players to the club. Yes, the vast majority, if not all, of my regens are German so we’ll be fine in future. But it’d be good to have a German at the heart of our team.

*UPDATE* A bit more gameplay, and further investigation has spotted that Goretzka is injury prone, and has in fact, just been ruled out for 3 months!



Another name you’ll recognise and ask yourself, how is he still only that young? Youri Tielemans is a player that I’m fairly positive a lot of us have managed in the game over the last couple of years. Arriving at his profile screen, I don’t actually get too overwhelmed. He isn’t/hasn’t progressed as well as I always thought he did. The time is right for him to move on from Anderlecht, but will his destination be Leipzig? I don’t think it will be.

Brilliant technique, good first touch, passing and flair. He’s got agility in abundance too. If I did sign him, I don’t think he’d be a bad option at all. He’s suit a playmaking role very well, but is he the kind of player I’m looking for to replace Naby? He isn’t near good enough in terms of teamwork and work rate. At £22m, it’s a lot too. I’d much rather spend upwards of £40m on Goretzka to be honest.


As I write this, Naby is still at the club and isn’t currently interesting any other clubs, so the need to replace him isn’t as great. This doesn’t mean to say that I’m not going to go out and secure the signature of one of the players I’ve outlined though. I really like Diawara, but with him not looking likely to be easily purchased, I’d love to bring Goretzka to Leipzig.

*UPDATE* Following on from the reveal that Goretzka is injury prone, and is out for 3 months, and also that Napoli don’t look like budging at all for Diawara, it’s down to the other 3. Will it be Sensi, Tielemans or Donsah?

Who would you sign out of the players I’ve outlined? Let me know on Twitter @FM_Samo, or in the comments below.



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