RB Leipzig are prepared to lose Naby Keita to Liverpool – but will wait until next summer before they allow the player to leave.
Liverpool have seen bids of £57m and £66m – both club record offers – rejected by the Bundesliga side this summer who have been determined to hold onto Keita ahead of their maiden campaign in the Champions League this season.
Reports in both the German and English press claimed a third bid of £74m was lodged but Liverpool would now appear to have backed down in their attempts to sign the 22-year-old this summer.
Leipzig, who finished second in their first ever campaign in the German top flight last season, have been adamant no deal will take place this summer, insisting not even a nine-figure offer would tempt them into doing business.
But the German side admit that stance will soften next summer.
“Sometimes, I think players develop even faster than the club. When he plays a season like last year, and, if possible, in the Champions League too – then we might be able to let a player join a big club and live with it,” Leipzig’s sporting director Ralf Rangnick told Bild, as reported by the Mirror. “There were two offers from Liverpool and in between times also a telephone call between the clubs. But not between me and Jurgen Klopp.
“For us, it was always clear that we would not give [over] Naby Keita. That is why there was no direct contact. Every club that has sporting ambitions would have done the same as we did. But we must weigh it up. If we let Keita go for €70m-€80m this year, what more would that bring us compared to the sum we would get next year?”
Keita reportedly has a release clause, thought to be in the region of £48m, written into his contract that becomes active at the end of next season, paving the way for Liverpool to sign the Guinea international for a significantly lower sum next summer.
The midfielder has made no secret of his desire to move onto one of Europe’s most established clubs but does appear to have a preference for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City over Liverpool should a move to the Premier League beckon.
“I hope that I have the level in two, three years and could play for one of the very big clubs,” Keita commented in June. “This includes Barcelona, but is also includes Real Madrid or Manchester City.”