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Muhamed Keita’s Row with Polish Giants Lech Poznan Threatens a Lucrative Move to Azerbaijan

Gambian professional footballer, Muhamed Keita is in a complex situation with uncertainties over what the future holds for his career.

The star is embroiled in a long-standing row with parent club Lech Poznan of Poland that poses a threat to the winger’s proposed lucrative move to Azerbaijan’s giants, FK Qarabag and rendered the Gambian-born unable to get a new club.

The saga began just 12 months into a four-year deal signed in 2014, and expires in June 2017.

The attacker arrived in the Eastern European country from then Norwegian league champions Stromgodset. The soon-to-be 23-year-old who was signed for €800,000, was expected to be something of a raved star. The Polish media made a buzz over the African’s qualities and his penchant for dribbling.

Poznan’s network of ever-present scouts who kept tabs on the player’s development in the Norwegian Eliteserien (Premier League), spoke highly of Keita in their compiled assessment dossier, recommending the winger to the club’s chairman Karol Klimczak.

The verdict by the team’s head of scouting opened up the path for chairman Karol to table in a bid. Aware of the Polish outfit’s interest and the huge financial reward that Keita’s transfer would yield, Stromgodset did not put up a fight and gave the player’s prospective club little or no problem to sanction the transfer.

Keita did not score a goal in the season he made the switch but was touted to blossom considering his impressive goal assists in the previous campaign. Soon after, the dynamics changed and a footballer tipped to be a future club great instead turned into a flop signing.

Registering only two goals – one of them a goal-of-the-season award winner – in just six starts in sixteen appearances, did little to aid progress of a player already growing disillusioned and homesick.

Maceij Skorza, who at the time coached the team, wouldn’t speak much of the highly-rated summer transfer. The silence had club faithful’s suspecting an on-going turbulent relationship between player and manager.

As the pressure piled, it later became clear that something was amiss but it only came to light when Keita secured a loan move to Norway on a one-year deal, reuniting with former club Stabaek.

The forward made no comment at the time of his departure from Poznan but later revealed the reason behind his decision to leave, claiming he felt out of place owing to racial slurs he suffered while in the Eastern European Country.

The 26-year-old alleged he had been touched and glared at several times by curious fans whom he believes, had probably never seen a black footballer before.

Owing to the hostile environment, according to the Serrekunda-born, he was forced to the extent of deploying a friend as a makeshift bodyguard anytime he visited the shopping mall while in Poznan. Keita’s comments however vexed Lech Poznan fans.

The footballer’s deal with Stabaek elapsed on December 31st 2016 and was mandated as per binding contract regulations, to return to Lech Poznan while mulling his next move.

Fearing a backlash from angry fans – should he return – over his inflammatory remarks, the former Norwegian U-23 international opted not to report back for training.

An exasperated Lech Poznan board gave a 48-hour deadline for the playmaker to fly back to the club or risk drawing the anger which could translate into a severe fine against the footballer.

The better option would seemingly have been to buy out the remainder of his six-month contract, an expensive burden he had no intention of shouldering.

In the heat of all the drama, there has been an enormity of clubs itching to prize away the Gambian including those from Norway, Belgium, Turkey, Netherlands, and Denmark.

The yet-to-be-capped Gambian at senior level, fancied seeking new pastures in China but given no offers have come from Asia, he turned his focus to the United States Major League Soccer.

New franchise side, Minnesota United were enthusiastic on making the forward a designated player – U. S’s league equivalent of a marquee signing – and even took Keita on a tour of the club’s facilities in an effort to sway him.

Meanwhile, Lech Poznan’s patience was wearing thin for a player who did not want to play for them but remains in the club’s books.

As the January transfer window draws to a close with Keita yet to find a new employer, The Railwayman outfit threatened to impose a €30,000 fine on the star for breach of contract and for ‘showing disregard’ to the club.

The latest coming out of this highly controversial saga is that the footballer has shunned Minnesota’s advances and has reportedly agreed a deal, in principle, with Azerbaijan multiple times champions FK Qarabag.

The deal is yet to be confirmed with the star’s prospective team sorting out a transfer fee with the Polish club who have a deal with Keita until June this year.

However, the transfer move faces a likely hit with Qarabag believed to have thwarted Lech Poznan’s ‘ridiculous’ price tag quoted to be in the excess of €200,000, for a player whose contract expires in four months.

This trajectory puts Keita’s lucrative proposed move to Azerbaijan in jeopardy and leaves him with an uncertain future as to where to play at start of a looming new season.



Featured photo:  Agencja Gazeta

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