Berlin (AFP) – RB Leipzig on Thursday again told Liverpool that Naby Keita will not be moving before next season, amid reports the Merseyside club want the Guinea midfielder immediately to replace Philippe Coutinho.
Keita, 22, already has a contract with Liverpool which comes into effect on July 1, but having completed the sale of Brazil star Coutinho to Barcelona on Monday for 160 million euros ($192 million), Liverpool are reportedly keen to bring Keita to Merseyside early.
The Germans issued another firm “hands off” ahead of the end of the Bundesliga winter break this weekend.
“We have always said that there is no reason for us to let him go sooner. Therefore he will be playing for us against Schalke at the weekend and hopefully playing well,” said Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuettl on Thursday.
In November, RB Leipzig also ruled out Keita joining Liverpool earlier than planned.
Countinho’s departure has changed the situation at Liverpool. German daily Bild report the Reds are prepared to pay 15 million euros extra to sign Keita this month.
German magazine Kicker says Keita has not been impressing in training in a bid to force the German club’s hand.
Kicker say RB Leipzig will get 75 million euros ($90m, £66.7) for Keita if they qualify directly for the Champions League next season, which will drop to 65 million euros if they fail to qualify for Europe.
The German club, who are fifth in the Bundesliga, have repeatedly said they need their midfield dynamo to help them qualify again for the Champions League.