Ex-Birmingham City defender Cheick Keita is set for a return to Italy, with news emerging that he has begun training with Salernitana, who currently sit top of Serie B. 

The 24-year-old joined the Blues back in 2017 under the Gianfranco Zola era, and came with plenty of potential and raw talent to a side that was in a transition period after sacking Gary Rowett prior to the Italian’s appointment. 

Keita signed a three-year-contract in a deal worth around £2 million, after acquiring his services from Virtus Entella.

The hope was for Keita to slot into a preferred 3-5-2 formation at left wing-back, and at times fans saw glimpses of his energy and silky footwork with the ball.

However as managers came and went Keita was limited to a mere 11 appearances for the club, with a more defensive approach offering less freedom for the young Frenchman during his time at the club. 

As a result he spent consecutive seasons away on loan, firstly at Serie A side Bologna, followed by a switch to Belgian side K.A.S Eupen during the 2018-19 season. 

He was retained by Birmingham for the 2019-20 season by former boss Pep Clotet, and was brought into the matchday side on several occasions, without making an appearance nonetheless. 

Blues opted not to renew his contract and the defender was released by the club in the summer of 2020. 

At 24-years-old Keita still has time to kick on to try and fulfil the potential he showcased with the Midlands side. His aim will be to gain consistency with one side and get a long run of games to cement his position to give him the best chance of a successful career.

Whether the Italian second division side will be his new permanent home or not, the youngster will be doing his best to grab the attention of new suitors as we approach the halfway stage of the 2020-21 campaign in Europe.