Naby Keita must force Liverpool transfer after RB Leipzig dig heels in and insist he is not for sale at any price

Liverpool have been told that the Guinea midfielder won't be allowed to leave the Bundesliga club

Ed Malyon
Thursday 13 July 2017 10:51 BST
Naby Keita scored eight goals and provided seven assists for RB Leipzig last season
Naby Keita scored eight goals and provided seven assists for RB Leipzig last season

Liverpool's pursuit of Naby Keita appears increasingly as if it could be doomed to failure after RB Leipzig communicated to the Premier League club that Keita is not for sale.

The focus now falls on the 22-year-old Guinea midfielder to formally ask for a transfer and force a move if he is to get the switch to Anfield that he so desires.

While the Reds know the player would like to join them this summer, Leipzig want to keep together the side that finished second in the Bundesliga last season.

Sporting director Ralf Rangnick has reiterated on numerous occasions that they would like to progress in the Champions League, and believe that their best chance of doing so is with their strongest squad.

Keita has risen to prominence with Red Bull Salzburg and then RB Leipzig, who he signed for last summer for just over £10m. While Liverpool are ready to offer £60m for his signature, much more than the £48m release clause that is understood to be in his contract for 12 months from now, there is a hope that a huge new contract in the autumn could convince Keita to stay.

Those close to the player suggest there is little chance of him renewing his deal but that is of little consequence this summer. What his strongest suitors are hoping for is that he now formally tells the club that he wants to leave, likely forcing him to forfeit a number of loyalty bonuses and payments in his existing deal.

Some recruitment analysts believe Keita could become one of the world's best midfielders and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is enamoured by his high-energy style and passing ability. Should Liverpool manage to pull off a deal for the 22-year-old midfielder then it will be a significant coup, but most of all it will be a relief after the club's pursuit of number one defensive target Virgil van Dijk went so badly - and publicly - wrong. For now, the Keita deal is heading down the same path and the Reds are approaching pre-season with only Mohamed Salah on board as a first-team signing.

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