herald

Thursday 14 December 2017

Keita to support Liverpool from a distance

Naby Keita. Photo: PA
Naby Keita. Photo: PA

Midfielder Naby Keita admits he will be a long-distance Liverpool supporter for the next year as he waits to complete his move to Anfield.

The Guinea international finalised the terms of a club-record transfer which will see him remain at RB Leipzig until the end of the season.

Manager Jurgen Klopp had wanted to sign in the 22-year-old this summer, but, with the Bundesliga club adamant the player would not be leaving, Liverpool opted for the next best option, even if it has cost them a premium.

The Reds could have waited 12 months and activated a £48million buy-out clause when it comes into effect, but were conscious they could have faced even more competition so have opted to pay an increased sum now to avoid an auction later.

“Until I join my new club, next summer, I will remain an interested supporter from a distance,” Keita, who is set to take former captain Steven Gerrard’s number eight shirt, said.

“I am delighted that an agreement has been reached which will allow me to join Liverpool Football Club next summer, when I will become part of a project that excites me greatly.

“Having my future resolved means I can now focus on helping RBL achieve great things this season.

“My commitment to RBL remains absolute for the remainder of my time at the club. I have given my all every time I have worn the shirt - that will be the case until the final whistle, in my final appearance.”

German newspaper Bild claim Liverpool will pay €75million should Leipzig qualify for next season’s Champions League, €70million if Leipzig secure a Europa League place, or €65million should they fail to earn a place in Europe.

Liverpool are still keen to add to their squad before the transfer window closes tomorrow, but are experiencing similar problems in their pursuit of Monaco midfielder Thomas Lemar, with the Ligue 1 side reluctant to sell.

Having seen a bid of £65m rejected, Liverpool are considering improving that by £10m, with the possibility of using Belgium striker Divock Origi as a makeweight in the deal.

Meanwhile, Liverpool have turned down a third bid from Crystal Palace for defender Mamadou Sakho after it fell well below their expectations.

Eagles chairman Steve Parish offered £22m plus £3m in add-ons - short of the £30m price the Reds have placed on the France international who spent the second half of last season on loan at Selhurst Park.

West Brom and Leicester are also keen on the 27-year-old centre-back, who fell out of favour with Klopp last summer after a number of indiscretions.

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