Rb Leipzig’s season has hit a pivotal stage already, reckons manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, who has urged Naby Keita to not let opponents wind him up now he’s become a marked man.
The Guinean, who’s officially agreed to join Liverpool next summer, has been red-carded twice already this term and faced suspensions as a result.
It’s no surprise Keita’s opponents are trying to unnerve him considering his influence and performances in 2016/17 that made him arguably Germany’s most effective midfielder.
“This is nothing that worries me. We need to be careful not to stigmatise him. He’s obviously now a player who others try to provoke, but he has learned his lesson,” Hasenhuttl said, reported in the Echo.
“We are going into some exhausting weeks. Maybe they are decisive for the rest of the season.”
Rb Leipzig are currently joint bottom of their Champions League Group, with the Echo suggesting the only chance we have of acquiring the 22-year-old early (when the window opens in January) is if they get knocked out and don’t need him in Europe during the second half of this season.
They do list the possibility as ‘unlikely’, but if Keita continues to be sent off, it might be best for all parties.
It must be odd for Keita to give his all for Rb when his heart and future is already at Anfield.
Still, we’ll watch the situation from afar. Importantly, when we bought Divock Origi and left him at his parent club Lille for a season, there was no attempt at an early January switch – despite fan suggestion.