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RB Leipzig Insist Liverpool Target Keïta Is Staying

Unlike last summer, Liverpool look set for protracted and less-than-certain transfer discussions.

3rd Place Match - Audi Quattro Cup 2015 Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images

While the Mohamed Salah pursuit seems to be reaching a happy denouement, Liverpool clearly have more work to do over the summer. In addition to strengthening the core of the back four, Liverpool almost certainly need help in the middle of the pitch as well, given the likelihood of Lucas Leiva’s departure, as well as Jordan Henderson’s ongoing fitness struggles.

The target for that role has long been rumored to be Naby Keïta, who enjoyed a solid season playing for the Bundesliga’s most recent surprise package, RB Leipzig. Die Roten Bullen will take part in next season’s Champions League, and have plenty of reasons to be optimistic as well, so this transfer saga is unlikely to resemble the typical story of a deep-pocketed English club raiding a more financially modest continental club.

Still, money does talk. Which is perhaps why the Leipziger Volkszeitung warns that an “indecent proposal” from Liverpool could pry Keïta away from the Bundesliga and into the warm and fuzzy embrace of the Premier League - never mind the fact that the last time Liverpool did anything remotely indecent it involved Roberto Firmino stripping Roberto Soldado of his dignity. Regarding that possibility, RB Leipzig’s sporting director Ralf Rangnick insisted, however, that his club was not inclined to make a deal.

“I said this to the players during our debriefing session on May 21: we don’t want to sell any of you, and there is no pain threshold [when it comes to resisting offers]. The team will definitely stay together, and to the contrary we’re planning on strengthening one or two positions.”

While not exactly encouraging for Liverpool supporters, Rangnick’s pronouncement was not focused specifically on Keïta, and indeed may be more pertinent to Emil Forsberg’s situation. It’s more likely that RB Leipzig are making it clear to all potential suitors that they don’t absolutely need to sell. Add to that the fact that the player is purportedly putting further discussions on hold for the immediate moment, and this looks to be more the beginning of a long and drawn-out transfer saga than the end of Liverpool’s interest.

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