Rb Leipzig sporting director Ralf Rangnick accepts that Naby Keita will likely depart come the end of this campaign, when his £48m release clause becomes active.
Liverpool were desperate to acquire the 22-year-old and made multiple bids which would have smashed our transfer record, but the Germans stubbornly refused, claiming their Guinean is not for sale at any price this summer – ahead of their debut Champions League campaign.
This is despite the fact they’re going to miss out on a very large transfer fee, potentially as much as £20m or £30m more than the release clause.
To a billionaire conglomerate aiming at world and football domination though, that’s chicken feed.
“Next season it is so that Naby theoretically has the option to go,” said Leipzig’s director of sport Rangnick , as quoted by German daily Bild .
“I’m assuming that he’s playing a strong season, even in the Champions League .
“And then there will be big clubs that are also interested in him. Therefore, it will probably be difficult to keep him.
“We always said, if players develop faster than our club, then it will also be that a player leaves us.
“[But] It’s important that Naby is still playing this season.”
Such is the high regard in which Jurgen Klopp holds Keita, we’d be mightily surprised if we didn’t go back in for the midfield dynamo at the end of this season – regardless of how we do this term.
Keita wants an Anfield switch this summer, but in a year’s time he might be targeted by Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich – which could make things trickier…
For now though, we’ll have to make do without him – all the more annoying considering Adam Lallana’s long-term injury and Coutinho’s niggling one.