Over the past few months, ever since Liverpool managed a late deferred deal for Naby Keïta, signing the 22-year-old Guinean midfield star in the summer of 2017 for a summer of 2018 arrival at the club, there has been talk about just maybe moving up that arrival date.
Talk of how, if Leipzig perhaps were to fall out of Europe entirely, Liverpool could get their man in in January rather than June. And with Leipzig flirting with last place in Group G, lately that talk has seemed increasingly plausible. Not so fast, though, says Ralf Rangnick.
"Even if we should not reach the knockout stages of the Champions League it would make no sense for us to allow Naby to join Liverpool earlier,” Rangnick told Germany’s Leipziger Volkszeitung. "We want to qualify for Europe again, and we need Naby for that."
Leipzig look good on that front, currently standing second in the Bundesliga, but while the title race in Germany is next to non-existent, the race to qualify for the Champions League by finishing second through fourth is currently being contested by no less than seven clubs.
Take Keïta out of the mix and they could go from the favourites to quality they currently are to mere contenders, one of many sides with a shot at doing so. The dreams of Reds fans aside, that always made a January move unlikely. Rangnick has simply stated the obvious.