Liverpool’s pursuit of Naby Keïta has seemingly hit a large, unsurmountable brick wall but the player’s latest actions may have just given them some hope.
The Naby Keïta saga is in truth, becoming exhausting. Even for us fans.
I can’t imagine how those involved like Klopp and Michael Edwards must feels when they’ve been working on it day and night, practically every day this summer in some capacity.
The Reds have been desperate to add the Guinean to their ranks this summer and make him one of two mega-money signings – the other being Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk – but while pursuing him for what seems like an eternity now, have made absolutely no progress whatsoever.
So what should be the next step?
An offer they can’t refuse
The Reds have seen two confirmed bids turned down so far believed to be in the region of £57m and £66m with a third offer either not even in the question, being heavily considered, or already tabled depending on which source you read.
If it is the case that Liverpool are going to make a third bid and that FSG are that desperate to land Klopp his first choice targets, then why not make an offer Leipzig seriously cannot refuse?
Publicly, Sporting Director Ralf Rangnick, CEO Oliver Mintzlaff and coach Ralph Hasenhüttl have all been adamant that Naby Keïta – alongside every other player at the club – is going nowhere this summer.
If no amount of money is going to be enough to make them change their minds, why have they entered negotiations with Liverpool not once but twice?
If Keïta really is the one midfield target that Klopp covets above the rest, then make the German club an offer that is simply too good to turn down. Whether it’s £75m, £80m or £85m, what difference does it make at this point?
Every player has a price and if the Reds are going to test Leipzig’s resolve, they might as well make a proper effort at it.
Use the player himself
Let me start off by being 100% clear here; I don’t condone footballers pulling a stunt like Naby Keïta did in training yesterday. The Guinean has evidently had enough of Leipzig not allowing a move to Liverpool to go through but to kneecap your captain in training? That’s a whole other animal.
— 🕳 (@StudgeIsMyMate) July 24, 2017
It seems a huge potential player in this deal having any chance of going through is going to be Keïta himself, or at very least, his agent.
Keïta shares the same representatives as Senegalese winger Sadio Mané who underwent similar issues trying to leave Leipzig’s sister club Salzburg back in 2013 before his move to Southampton.
Mané kicked up enough of a fuss and made it so clear to Sporting Director at the time – who just so happened to be one Ralf Rangnick, spooky isn’t it? – that a move was finally agreed on August 31st right before the closing of the transfer window.
So far, there have been various rumours and reports stating that Keïta has feigned injury, been asked to train by himself, dampened the mood of Leipzig’s training camp and now, even intentionally injured another player in training as a retaliation to a poor challenge in training.
Interestingly, both Rangnick and Mintzlaff were rumoured on Twitter to be in attendance of the training session that Keïta’s actions saw cancelled leading many to believe that it was purely a statement of his desire to leave.
Liverpool know Keïta is desperate to join the club but perhaps it’s time to start playing a little dirty and make him aware that if he wants it, he’s going to have to help them out.
Walk away from the deal
The final option would simply be to walk away but even that comes with two options.
The first is to feign walking away to try and force Leipzig’s hand. The German club know that Liverpool are desperate to sign the player and this has given them the upper hand in all negotiations so far.
They know that the longer this goes on, the more media attention they can attract and the more money they can eek out of Liverpool’s back pocket.
We saw during Liverpool’s negotiations with Roma for Mohamed Salah that once things started to get tough, links with Portuguese winger Gelson Martins hit the headlines.
It might be the cynic in me but there is no way that was a coincidence. Clubs use media coverage all the time to influence negotiations, feeding certain snippets to the press and doing everything they can to twist the truth.
If the Reds were to ‘walk away’ which certain journalists, such as Paul Joyce, have already started reporting might be the case, it could see Leipzig’s resolve slip when they realise they’ll be missing out on such a mega pay day.
Alternatively, the Reds know that their Champions League playoff qualifier is coming up in the next fortnight and Klopp so far hasn’t – Mo Salah aside – added a high-profile signing to his squad this summer.
The German was hoping to have his squad finalised ahead of pre-season but knowing that was never going to be the case, would’ve likely had the beginning of August as his main target for finalising all his deals.
Maybe this Keïta deal should just be left dead in the water and the club should start pursuing alternative targets to ensure they are not left empty handed and understrength come the visit to Watford on August 12th.
What do you think? Should Liverpool abandon any deal for Naby Keïta or throw as much money at Leipzig as they can?