Despite reports out of Germany in recent days claiming Naby Keïta’s game against Schalke on Saturday would be his last for Red Bull Leipzig and confidence amongst journalists in Guinea with ties to the player that a deal to bring him to Liverpool six months early was all but done, it isn’t.
Schalke on Saturday will not be Keïta’s last game for Leipzig. The confidence shown by journalists with ties to the player was misplaced. Naby Keïta will be a Leipzig player until the end of the current season according to the club, who have released a statement to that effect this morning.
With Liverpool having sold Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for €160M this month there were hopes the club could bring Keïta’s arrival forward, replacing the outgoing Brazilian with the Guinean star who was set to take on the number eight when he arrived at Anfield—and still is, just not until summer.
It’s a blow to Liverpool, running into a side fighting for the Champions League places in Germany who are unwilling to sell a star player even at a premium following Liverpool’s decision to offload Coutinho in similar circumstances due to the threat of the player downing tools.
Now, the club will have to look elsewhere for a reinforcement for their midfield and attack. If they can’t make a new signing to fill the void left by Coutinho—or decide they don’t have to—it will put a great deal of pressure on Jürgen Klopp to prove his decision to sell wasn’t a mistake.