Yesterday, Red Bull Leipzig changed their stance. No longer was Naby Keïta not for sale. Instead, now, they’d sell him for around €80M. A massive, eye-watering figure, no doubt, but one that at least signalled a shift in approach for the German club who until now have taken a hard line stance on selling any of their key players this summer.
Today, the reason why started to become clear, with reports claiming Keïta wants out of Leipzig beginning to emerge from Germany. First put forward by respected German journalist Raphael Honigstein and since picked up by other outlets, it now appears that Jürgen Klopp’s top midfield target for the summer may be willing to push to get a deal done.
Though Leipzig has in the past denied it, there continue to be whispers of a release clause of between €50M and €52M (£44M to £45M) that is meant to kick in next summer. Keïta, meanwhile, has been resisting Leipzig’s attempts at negotiating a new deal despite the fact that he’s currently on a contract that pays around £35k per week.
That had, at least in part, been the basis of prior talk from Liverpool-connected journalists that the club were willing to pay £50M, a premium on what the German club stood to gain by holding on to him for another year. With talk of Leipzig wanting €80M, an extra £5M clearly wasn’t seen as much of a premium—but that’s where wages come in.
Along with talk of Liverpool being willing to pay a £50M transfer fee has been talk of a £120k (or €170k) wage, roughly five times what Keïta is on. It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that Keïta would angle for a move, as beyond the chance to play in Europe’s biggest league and for one of the game’s biggest managers, there’s a major payday on offer.
The bad news, though, is that the same sources saying Keïta wants out are saying Leipzig aren’t inclined to be flexible on that €80M transfer fee demand. Still, after weeks of Leipzig saying he’s not for sale and Liverpool fans questioning just how motivated the player might be to seek a move, today we have significant changes on both fronts.
Now, Leipzig are saying Naby Keïta is for sale. And now, it appears that the player is making his desire to move clear to his current club. A deal still won’t be easy, but it appears far more likely today than it did even 24 hours ago.