Ibrahima Traore has explained how he played an unlikely role in Naby Keita sealing a deal in advance to sign for Liverpool.
The Guinean has revealed he got in touch with his fellow countryman over the phone during the summer, with Keita having expressed a desire to secure an Anfield switch.
His wish to do so came to nothing, however, with RB Leipzig standing by their insistence that he would not be sold ahead of the club’s maiden season in the Champions League.
Traore has revealed that he reassured the 22-year-old that he would get his move at some point, even if it was next year.
“He’s fantastic, he’s a really really good player,” he told the BBC.
“Everything that has been said about him is true. I have no concern about him because I think he is going to do great [at Liverpool].”
“We have a really good relationship, I called Naby during pre-season because I heard he had some issues in Leipzig with some of the players and I know he wasn’t happy with the situation because he wanted to move to Liverpool.”
“I told him: ‘This not good what you are doing because you are still a Leipzig player’.”
“‘I understand the situation is not easy, but look what has to happen will happen.”
“‘You will go to Liverpool, if it’s not this year, it will be next year. You will go to Liverpool, but in the meantime you have to concentrate and you have to train with Leipzig because this is your team.”
“‘If they say you don’t go, you don’t go [this year] but you will go to Liverpool because they have shown that they want you.’
“We talked for a long time and he said: ‘Yes, you’re right, I still have to play a season here, so I still have to play good here.”
His advice to Keita shares similarities to the Philippe Coutinho transfer saga that dominated the summer window, with many feeling the Brazilian should wait at least another year for his dream move and, in the meantime, continue to focus on life at Liverpool.
Keita’s patience did eventually pay off, with the Reds agreeing a deal worth over £50million with Leipzig that will see the midfielder join the club at the beginning of July next year.
Building on a standout 2016/2017 campaign in the Bundesliga remains his priority right now, not to mention making a statement in the Champions League.
Another year of development could see Liverpool get an even better player than the one they agreed to acquire last month.