RB Leipzig would reportedly allow Naby Keita to join Liverpool in January for the right price despite public claims made by the club he will be staying put.
The Reds have agreed a deal to bring the Guinean to Merseyside in the summer, although following the departure of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona, there has been speculation the Premier League side would try to bring Keita in early.
According to Bild (h/t Sport Witness), at the Bundesliga team “internally it’s clear” the midfielder can depart if Liverpool stump up an extra €20 million (£18 million).
It’s noted there are plenty at Leipzig who have grown tired of Keita’s attitude, noting “the extravagances of the African are now getting on people’s nerves.”
If the Reds were to get him in January, that’d take the overall price of the deal for the midfielder up to €95 million (£84 million), with a €75 million (£66 million) package said to have been agreed ahead of the current campaign.
RONNY HARTMANN/Getty Images
The report comes after Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuttl told Phil McNulty of BBC Sport that “there’s no reason for us to let Keita go early” and that “nothing has changed.” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp had little to say on the matter on Friday either, per James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo:
James Pearce @JamesPearceEcho
Klopp on Keita: “There is nothing to say. He’s a player of Leipzig, that’s what I know.”
If Liverpool were able to bring this transfer forward, then they’d be tempted to pay an additional premium, especially after losing Coutinho.
There’s plenty of excitement about what Keita will bring to the Reds. After all, the 22-year-old is a man for all occasions, as he can tackle, dribble, pass and shoot. And while he’s not been at his best this season, there aren’t many footballers around with so many positive attributes.
As these numbers from Squawka Football illustrate, at times last season Keita was a force of nature in the Leipzig midfield:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Naby Keita’s season by numbers:
53 tackles won
Wins the ball. Drives forward. ⏭ https://t.co/Y00pkDZUou
While he does not have the guile of someone like Coutinho, the Guinean is creative and would bring crucial thrust to the hub of Klopp’s side.
It’d also appease those supporters who, despite seeing the Reds spend a world-record amount on a defender to secure Virgil van Dijk, are unhappy at the sale of their No. 10 midseason. Keita would give everyone a boost.
Michael Sohn/Associated Press
He’d also improve the team and with Liverpool still in contention for the FA Cup and a top-four spot in the Premier League, Keita’s arrival would potentially make a huge difference.
Andy Heaton of the Anfield Wrap believes that Liverpool have an easy choice to make with that in mind:
Andy Heaton @Andrew_Heaton
Would bringing in Keita early improve our chances of finishing in the top four? Undoubtedly, what’s the point of signing him at all if not?
Is a €20m premium worth paying to get him in now?
Personally think the answer is obvious.
Imagine saying no and missing CL by a point?
Leipzig have struggled to scale the same heights as last season and were eliminated from the UEFA Champions League in the group stages. Given they’re also out of the DFB-Pokal, the Red Bulls have no silverware to realistically challenge for this term, as they sit in fifth in the Bundesliga.
Subsequently, there may be a softening of their stance on Keita, especially if they can pick up the amount of money mentioned. It’s a deal that appears to make sense for all parties, although it remains to be seen if Leipzig’s stance is different from the one they’ve made publicly.