By Coral Barry | Metro |
RB Leipzig have begun searching for a replacement for Naby Keita after accepting he wants to join Liverpool, according to reports in Germany.
Keita has been the subject of intense and persistent transfer speculation with Liverpool reportedly seeing two bids for his services rejected.
Jurgen Klopp is believed to have made the midfielder his No.1 target this summer after Keita enjoyed an excellent first season in Germany.
But, Leipzig have always insisted Keita is not for sale at any price and the latest flow of reports were that Liverpool had shelved their interest.
However, Bild are now claiming that not only have Leipzig performed a remarkable U-turn, but that the German club are looking for a suitable replacement.
Sports director Ralf Rangnick is searching through scout reports and has sent several members of his team out to inspect possible targets.
Keita’s arrival at Liverpool would be a big statement from the Reds in the transfer window with rivals Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United all spending huge amounts of money on new players.
Alvaro Morata has arrived at Chelsea, Romelu Lukaku at United while City have already broken the £200million threshold in their summer spending.
Leipzig have been earmarking several players that could replace Keita and were keen to bring in the chosen replacement in the coming weeks.
The plan was for the new playmaker to spend a season playing alongside Keita and be given time to settle in.
But, Leipzig have accelerated the search and are now resigned to losing Keita before the close of this window.
Liverpool will be expected to fork out at least £65m for Keita.
The 22-year-old was the star man for Leipzig last season as they took the Bundesliga by storm in their first season in the division.
Leipzig qualified for the Champions League and wanted Keita on board to help them challenge for the title in the new campaign.
However Keita’s relationship with his team-mates has seemed to sour after he was involved in a training ground bust-up this week.
The Guinea international reacted furiously to a tackle and responded with an equally forceful one on Diego Demme.
Keita’s actions forced the training session to be abandoned and he was then made address the issue in an apology video a few hours later.