Liverpool’s pursuit of Mohamed Salah wasn’t exactly smooth sailing, but it could be among the easiest signings they make this summer.
With the Egyptian winger on board thanks to a club-record £36.9m deal completed last week, Liverpool are now able to devote their attention fully to other transfer targets, and they’ll need to pull out all the stops to land their first choices.
Firstly, to RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita. According to the Guardian’s Ed Aarons, momentum behind a move for the Guinea international is building again, but the German side’s asking price is proving to be a massive stumbling block.
Liverpool move for Naby Keita is gaining momentum but reports RB Leipzig want £70m #lfc
— Ed Aarons (@ed_aarons) June 26, 2017
Liverpool’s pursuit of Keita took a massive hit last week when RB Leipzig were granted permission to compete in next season’s Champions League despite issue surrounding Red Bull’s ownership of both them and Austrian side RB Salzburg (who also qualified for the Champions League), but Jurgen Klopp is seemingly not prepared to give up on the 22-year-old just yet.
The £70m valuation will be a massive issue, however. Liverpool are quite happy to break their transfer record to sign Keita, but they were hoping to do a deal nearer the £50m mark. Interestingly, Keita has a release clause of around that figure that kicks in next summer, and with the player hesitating over signing a new deal they might end up losing him for in and around that £50m mark in twelve months anyway.
Meanwhile, the pursuit of Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk is ongoing despite the threat of a Premier League charge for an alleged illegal approach by the Premier League side. Reports of Chelsea’s interest gathered momentum over the weekend, which could, in turn, start a bidding war for the Dutch international.
For now, however, the asking price is £70m and while Liverpool will try to get that price down as the negotiations drag on, virtually of their power has been taken away from them by their earlier hubris Southampton’s subsequent complaint.
Pretty much the only thing that might work in their favour is if the 25-year-old makes it known to the club and to new Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino that he wants to leave, and that Anfield is his preferred destination.