RB Leipzig were on the receiving end of a 5-2 walloping from Hoffenheim at the weekend and Liverpool couldn't be more pleased. The Red Bull-sponsored club have found it harder going in only their second season in the German top flight after finishing runners up last term. After initially starting the season brightly, the Leipzig have suffered a turn of fortunes in the new year, losing a number of big matches to their rivals in the competition for Champions League places.
The latest defeat over the weekend has been particularly damaging for the Saxony club’s hopes, with the six-pointer loss allowing 1899 Hoffenheim to leapfrog them in the table, subsequently dropping the Red Bulls back into 6th place and two spots out of the vital top four. Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side have a mere three games left to try make up the four point difference on current fourth-place holders, Bayer Leverkeusen, with an available nine points giving them all to play for.
However Leipzig can expect no support from Liverpool fans due to how the German club’s final league finish will have a material impact on a deal struck eight months ago to bring Leipzig’s Naby Keïta to Mersyside at the end of this season. This is because one of the clauses in the highly-unusual deal made the transfer fee to be paid on July 1, 2018 contingent on the Guinean’s employer’s final position in the table at the end of the season.
Were Leipzig to make it back into the Champions League, the fee would be the £59m figure that has been bandied about in much of the discussion around the transfer, a reasonable assumption at the time given their strong showing last season. However, were they to fall to 5th or 6th—thusly only qualifying for the Europa League—the amount Liverpool would owe would drop down to £52.75m. A finish of 7th or below would see the fee fall even further to £48m, a steal of Mohamed Salah-esque proportions.
There isn’t much that Liverpool fans would spare to secure the services of a generational talent like Keïta, especially when he can come on as he did with his side 3-0 down at the weekend and do things like this:
However in a crucial summer in which Jürgen Klopp will be hoping to bring on those one or two vital but high-priced pieces to challenge for the league next season, the few million quid that could be potentially be saved on the Leipzig dynamo could be influential.
As it stands, Eintracht Frankfurt are a mere point behind Leipzig in the table in 7th, albeit with a difficult run-in that sees them face perennial champions Bayern Munich and current runners up Schalke 04 in two of their final three matches. So while we at TLO are not ones to wish ill on the fortunes of other clubs not named Manchester United, for the next few weeks, it’s Up, Die Adler.