You may have caught wind of this at some point, but Liverpool are in the hunt for a central midfielder this summer, preferably one whose name rhymes with Schmaby Schmeïta. That particular pursuit is proving to be complicated, to say the least, so it’s not exactly irrational for Liverpool to be simultaneously laying the groundwork for other options should RB Leipzig remain completely unwilling to do business.
It’s not entirely clear what those other options might be. Part of the reason why Liverpool have been so focused on Keïta is that the player possesses a truly singular skill set, and there are just not many comparables in his age range. Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez is decidedly not comparable to Keïta, but he does play in the midfield and have an outsized transfer value in the market, so needless to say he’s been linked to Liverpool this summer. Again.
This time, the rumors have been precipitated by the pending arrival of Dani Ceballos at the Bernabeu, which casts more doubt on Rodriguez’s long term future at Real Madrid. According to various reports, the player himself would very much like to accelerate his departure to a new club before Real Madrid travel overseas for their pre-season tour. As a result, his agent is allegedly reaching out to various clubs - including Liverpool - to drum up interest. And there may very well be some interest, but likely not at the price that Real Madrid would contemplate.
A move away from Madrid would make good sense for both the club and the player - there’s plenty of similar options with similar skill sets, and Rodriguez is not exactly at the top of Zinedine Zidane’s list. Zidane himself is purportedly inclined towards offloading Rodriguez, but his club doesn’t do business at a discount, whether they are on the buying or selling end. From Liverpool’s perspective, if they are going to pay a king’s ransom, they might as well offer it for a player that they actually need.