Jurgen Klopp has conceded defeat in his attempts to lure 22-year-old Naby Keita from RB Leipzig this summer, reports the Liverpool Echo. The German can’t complain that the Liverpool board hasn’t backed his judgement but with the price fast approaching £70m, the Reds have called off their pursuit and will now look elsewhere for their midfield solutions.
It’s been a difficult week for Keita. He was involved in an ugly training ground incident as Die Roten Bullen prepare for this weekend’s Emirates Cup at Arsenal. Leipzig lost their opening game 1 – 0 to Sevilla, thanks to a Ben Yedder penalty just before half-time.
Now Keita faces another season in the Bundesliga with head coach Ralph Hasenhüttl underlining that he was going nowhere, commenting after the game that “The chance [of Keïta leaving] is null,” reports the Observer.
Hasenhüttl previously claimed that the player’s head had been turned by the speculation about Liverpool’s interest. The club steadfastly maintained from Day One of the transfer window that Keita was not leaving; Liverpool got the message before it became a prohibitively expensive deal.
There is a sting in the tail though. Next summer, Keita’s release clause of £48m becomes effective. Liverpool may lose the battle but yet win the war, as well as saving £20 – 25m.