The Mali international, scorer of the winning goal in his country’s 2-1 defeat of Botswana on Tuesday to qualify for the African Nations Cup quarter-finals, was with Sevilla at the time but says he had given Barcelona his word and eventually moved in a deal worth €14m.
“Barcelona had come off the back of three difficult years,” explained Keita, “and a lot of people had advised me not to sign for them. I had been involved in advanced negotiations with Real Madrid and Juventus, the other clubs that wanted to sign me and who had offered more money, but I had given my word to Txiki Begiristain, Barca’s former director of football.”
The 32-year-old was also asked about the different tactics used by Real Madrid in their efforts to beat Barcelona in recent games, but answered in diplomatic fashion.
“Each team has its own way of playing. Real Madrid think that is the best way to beat us, that’s all. You can discuss certain ploys but I am not one to criticise anybody.”