Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp would not let the disappointment of missing out on top transfer target Naby Keita get him down following the victory over Hertha Berlin as he joked the club will launch a “€300m” bid to sign the wanted RB Leipzig midfielder.
Klopp was in good spirits following the 3-0 victory over the Bundesliga side on Saturday evening, where summer signings Dominic Solanke and Mohamed Salah both got onto the scoresheet with midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum adding the third.
Despite the comfortable win, Klopp’s post-match press conference unsurprisingly focused on the club’s interest in Keita, with a third offer worth around £75m rejected earlier in the week by Leipzig officials.
“Our next offer for Keita is €300m!” joked Klopp when speaking to Sky Deutschland, though he stressed that the statement was only a joke and that he would not be discussing the club’s true transfer business.
Klopp’s comments came shortly after RB Leipzig manager Ralph Hasenhüttl confirmed that Keita will “100 per cent” remain with the club this summer, scuppering any chance of a move to Liverpool before the season gets underway.
With Leipzig in London for the Emirates Cup, Keita was given a platform to showcase his talents in England for the first time, having enjoyed a fine season that helped side finish second in the Bundesliga last term.
Yet that also meant that head coach Hasenhüttl was faced with questions about Keita from the British press, and he confirmed that there is no prospect of the former Red Bull Salzburg midfielder leaving the club this summer.
“The chance [of Keïta leaving] is null,” said Hasenhüttl. “It’s 100 per cent clear that Naby will play this year in Leipzig. At the beginning of the transfer period we said we would start with the same team and of the players we had last year no one will go. That would be our answer now also.
“For us everyone can see how important Naby Keïta is for our game. It’s 100 per cent sure that he will be with RB Leipzig in the Champions League.”
Given that Keita has already caught the eye, the fact that he will have the platform of the Champions League this season to impress further could see Liverpool face much stiffer competition than they did this summer for his signature, given that he will be available for significantly less than the £75m Liverpool had rejected earlier this week.
“Until next summer we keep it closed and then we have a look,” Hasenhüttl added.
“I said for all the players it is very important to stay together as it’s the first time we play Champions League and that is a new situation for every one of us. We have very young players and I think for them it is very important to play the first year in the Champions League as a team. We will learn this very much again this year.
“Keïta is more focused on us and has more fun now than last year. He knows this season will be fantastic for us. To play Champions League for Naby Keïta is a great thing.”
Keita will be on display again on Sunday as Leipzig face Benfica in the first match of the day in the Emirates Cup, before Arsenal take on Sevilla to wrap up the pre-season tournament.
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