When journalists with ties to the club said that Liverpool would return for Naby Keïta next summer, fans were skeptical. This time, though, it turns out to have been true. Naby Keïta will join Liverpool in the summer of 2018 after the club agreed a deferred deal with RB Leipzig to insure his arrival.
According to The Times’ Paul Joyce, Liverpool have agreed a fee in excess of Keïta’s £48M release clause set for next summer to sign the player now but will leave him at the Bundesliga club for the coming season. Keïta is currently undergoing a Liverpool medical before officially completing the deal.
Liverpool agree club record deal with RB Leipzig for Naby Keita which will see him sign NEXT SUMMER.— paul joyce (@_pauljoyce) August 28, 2017
To call this an unexpected twist would be a massive understatement, and the fact that the player will not join his new club until the 2018-19 season does somewhat rob the excitement from it, but if nothing else it signals just how badly Jürgen Klopp wants to sign the 22-year-old Guinean midfielder.
It could also further suggest that the club are proactively laying the foundation for Philippe Coutinho’s departure a year from now. Liverpool always needed midfield reinforcements this year, even with Coutinho, and their attempts to sign Thomas Lemar now seek to address that squad weakness.
Next summer, though, they seem certain to need to replace the Brazilian no matter what else happens between now and then. It looks, then, like that if all goes to plan then it will be Lemar strengthening the midfield this summer and Keïta arriving to replace Coutinho in a year.