Last updated: 18 november, 2011 - 14:47 GMT

BBC African Footballer of the Year 2011: Expert's view - Keita

Seydou Keita is a great example of enduring talent and class overcoming adversity.

The Malian midfielder has been a star in his homeland for more than a decade.

He is left footed, composed, an intelligent player who prompts and directs

James Copnall

His fortunes – or perhaps more accurately his reputation – has fluctuated, through struggles at Marseille, as a young man, and now Barcelona, where he is no longer the first name on the team sheet.

But Keita is regarded as a fine professional, and his talent and character, key values in the criteria to choose the BBC’s African footballer of the year, always shine through.

The man known at home as ‘Seydou Ble’ – in reference to the light colour of his skin – is undoubtedly a top drawer midfielder.

He is left footed, composed, an intelligent player who prompts and directs, creating the base on which the talents of Leo Messi and David Villa can shine.

He also has a ferocious shot, and regularly weighs in with key goals.

This season he has not always been guaranteed a starting spot for Barcelona, given the intense riches in the squad of the world’s best side.

But he rarely disappoints when he is called on.

He has been a vital part of the squad that has won the last three Spanish league titles, and two of the last there European Champions League titles.

In 2011 he was able to savour a league and Champions League double, a rare feat for any player and one few Africans throughout history can match.

Last season he played 35 league games, and 10 in the Champions League, even if some were as a substitute.

Recently he has been linked with a move to Liverpool, showing that top sides around the world rate the 31-year-old.

Over the years his presence in the national team has been a source of great reassurance to supporters of Les Aigles.

Following a self-imposed exile, pressure from Malian fans helped bring Keita back, and he played in the 2-2 draw which took Mali to the 2012 Nations Cup finals.

In short, Keita is a classy winner, and a consummate team player.

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