Liverpool transfer news: £66m bid for Naby Keita rejected
Jurgen Klopp tables massive offer for Guinea midfielder, but Red Bull Leipzig will not sell
Liverpool have had an "extraordinary" £66m bid for Red Bull Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita rejected, reports the Daily Telegraph.
The deal would have almost doubled the Reds' club record fee of £36m, set earlier this summer when they landed Mohamed Saleh from Roma.
It was Liverpool's second attempt to prise the 22-year-old Guinea international away from the German club, who signed him from Red Bull Salzburg last year for around £13m. A first offer of £57m was rejected earlier this month.
"The Bundesliga side have stated throughout the summer they are unwilling to sell their midfielder – and they are not interested in negotiating with the Merseysiders," says Chris Bascombe of the Telegraph. "Leipzig's stance has never changed and the refusal to accept such an offer further demonstrates Jurgen Klopp’s difficulty securing his prime summer target.
"Keita has not yet spoken about this situation so it is unclear whether he will push any harder for a move, or even if that will make any difference."
Reports earlier this summer said Leipzig would consider selling Keita for £70m. Such a valuation for a relatively unproven player has been described as "insane", although Liverpool's latest offer was close to that figure.
Leipzig owner Dietrich Mateschitz told German newspaper Bild: "We don’t sell any of our players just to get money… No way.
"To sell him would not only be a proof of distrust to our fans, but also the wrong sign for our players like Timo Werner, who is in demand too."
His comments "reflect Leipzig's overall intransigence with sporting director Ralf Rangnick having been similarly vocal in maintaining that the player will remain at the club ahead of a first Champions League campaign", reports The Times.
"Liverpool have alternative options to Keita, but manager Klopp has said he would only abandon the chase reluctantly. In contrast, Southampton's Virgil van Dijk, another target Liverpool are trying to lure to Anfield, is the only centre back they are interested in."
Liverpool transfer news: Stalemate over Naby Keita deal
Liverpool target Naby Keita is to hold "further talks" with Red Bull Leipzig in the coming days in the hope of securing his transfer to Anfield.
The 22-year-old Guinea international midfielder is "understood to be keen on a move to Anfield now" rather than next summer, says the Daily Mail, even though the terms of his contract stipulate that his release clause comes into play at the end of next season.
Not surprisingly Leipzig sporting director Ralf Rangnick has stated his intention to hold Keita to the terms of his contract, declaring that the club "will definitely not be letting any key players go. There's nothing that will make us budge". But such is Liverpool's determination to bring a hard-nosed defensive midfielder to Anfield that they won't give up their chase of Keita.
The Liverpool Echo says that while Keita dreams of playing in England he "isn’t willing to spit on his current club", and that's left him in an impasse.
The Echo says that Leipzig, buttressed by Red Bull’s millions, are under no financial pressure to sell their players, and they hold Keita in such high regard that are unlikely to let him go without a fight. The only glimmer of hope for the Reds is that they could persuade Leipzig to sell by offering more than his £48m release clause.
Still in Germany and the Daily Mirror reports that Hoffenheim frontman Andrej Kramaric is also being pursued by Jurgen Klopp. The 26-year-old Croatian scored 18 times in 36 appearances last season and according to Bild newspaper, that has caught the eye of the Liverpool manager.
Spurs, Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Inter Milan are all said to have made enquiries about Kramaric and Hoffenheim are hoping a bidding war breaks out in the coming weeks.