Liverpool do not appear to have given hope of signing Naby Keita just yet, despite RB Leipzig’s claim that the Guinea international will ‘100 per cent’ not be leaving this summer.
The 22-year-old has emerged as Jurgen Klopp’s number one target, though the Reds have had two club-record bids of £57 million and £66m both rejected out of hand.
Liverpool were in the German capital to take on Hertha Berlin over the weekend, and understandably the German media were keen to find out the latest news on their pursuit of Keita.
And after beating the Bundesliga side 3-0, Klopp was in a playful mood, telling Sky Deutschland: ‘Our next offer for Keita is €300 million!’
While Klopp was keen to stress that he was only joking about the €300m bid (£268m), a potential windfall from the sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona could allow the club to make RB Leipzig an offer they cannot refuse.
The Catalan giants are targeting the Brazilian playmaker as a replacement for PSG-bound Neymar, with some reports claiming the two clubs are in advanced negotiations over an £80m deal.
That would significantly bolster Liverpool’s coffers and could prompt a third offer for Keita, though the German side – who finished runners-up last season – are still unlikely to do a deal.
When told that Liverpool had given up hope of signing Keita, Leipzig boss Ralph Hasenhuttl said: ‘That’s good. The chance [of him leaving] is “null”. It is 100% clear that Naby will play this year with Leipzig.
At the beginning of the transfer window we said we would start with the same team with all the main players we had last year and that no one will go and that will be our answer now also.
‘Everyone can see how important Naby Keita is with our game. Him and [Emil] Forsberg also.
‘These are our two most important players on our team so it’s sure he will be with our team next year.’
Keita has a release clause that activates next summer that will allow him to move for significantly less than Liverpool have already bid, though the Reds will face far sterner competition to sign him.