Barcelona have confirmed on their official website that Seydou Keïta has decided to leave the club.
The Malian defensive midfielder won a total of fourteen trophies whilst playing for the Blaugrana, making 168 appearances since signing from Seville in 2008.
28 at the time, Keïta cost the Catalonian giants €14 million and signed a four-year contract. He leaves less than a year after a four extension was agreed with the club.
A clause in the contract allowed Keïta to leave Camp Nou if he failed to feature in at least 50 percent of the club’s official matches. Despite playing in 42 matches, scoring four goals, he failed to do this.
Only 22 of his appearances were in the starting 11 and, according to goal.com, he is expected to sign a two-and-a-half year deal with Dalian Aerbin later today.
Never heard of them?
Well, you’re not alone.
Dalian Aerbin were founded in 2009 but have won two consecutive league titles. Their success means that they are now playing in the Chinese Super League, currently occupying 11th place with 17 points after 16 games.
They are two points ahead of Shanghai Shenua, the team Nicolas Anelka left Chelsea for in January.
Despite their quick ascension through the Chinese football pyramid, one has to question whether Keïta has made the move for the right reasons.
At 32, his best playing days are perhaps behind him, but his abilities would still be welcome in almost any team scattered throughout Europe’s leading domestic leagues.
A report earlier this year in the Metro claimed that Liverpool had expressed an interest in his services, a story shared by the Daily Mail and the Guardian, indeed Keïta has claimed that both Real Madrid and Juventus had expressed an interest in him, according to goal.com.
Although all stories are rumours, the fact he has been linked with such clubs make his talents clear. Instead of playing for a mid-table team in the Chinese Super League, he could be competing for silverware at one of Europe’s leading clubs.
It seems that he has instead opted to follow in the footsteps of Nicolas Anelka, Samuel Eto’o and Asamoah Gyan by leaving a top European league for easy money.
With three La Liga titles and two Champions League triumphs, you could argue that Keïta’s trophy cupboard is amongst the impressive in world football, but the reality is, he still has the ability to earn several more.