In the weeks leading up to the January transfer window, many Liverpool fans had hoped that a way might be found to bring Naby Keïta from RB Leipzig to Anfield six months early, but the German club’s CEO says it isn’t going to happen and that the player hasn’t brought up the possibility.
“Neither Naby nor his advisor have expressed any desire to leave the club in the winter,” Oliver Mintzlaff told Bild today when he was asked about whether the star Guinean midfielder would remain beyond the end of the month. “There are contracts, and they say he becomes a Liverpool player on July 1st.”
It’s perhaps not the news Liverpool fans would have liked to have heard—a surprise early arrival for Keïta would certainly boost the club’s top four hopes, especially with Jordan Henderson’s injury concerns leaving Jürgen Klopp short-staffed in midfield this month.
Still, it’s the news that was expected. Leipzig only ever agreed to allow Keïta to leave because of a £55M release clause that kicked in in the summer of 2018, and even then—and with Liverpool paying a premium to guarantee his arrival in 2018—it was a difficult deal to get done.
Liverpool might have reasons for wanting Keïta in early, but Leipzig have their own concerns—first amongst them finishing top four in the Bundesliga, which similar to England is a tough five-team race to finish in the three places behind an all conquering front runner, Bayern Munich.
“It's not Naby's disposition,” Mintzlaff added when asked if he had any concerns the player’s efforts would wane as the season went on and his move to Liverpool edged closer. “Our players have character and are ambitious. I expect everyone to step up with maximum mentality and force of character.
“That's what makes us strong, and that's what we need for a successful season. We want to achieve a lot, want to return to Europe, and would love to again qualify for Champions League."