Liverpool are hoping Naby Keïta will be their player by the end of January but the switch is being delayed due to RB Leipzig insisting an unusual clause is paid early, Football Whispers can exclusively reveal.
However, the Premier League club are looking to expedite the deal after selling Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona.
RB Leipzig had initially been desperate to keep the midfielder for the whole season but reports in Germany suggest they would be prepared to let the 22-year-old leave this month if their terms are matched.
Bild claim a bid of around £13million would be enough to secure Keïta’s signature early, with the report claiming CEO Oliver Mintzlaff feels as though their starman is not showing the required commitment.
A move this month didn’t appear to be on the cards in December though. A source told Football Whispers that negotiations had come to a standstill, with the fee for the player being the main sticking point.
Liverpool paid a premium on top of Keïta’s release clause to convince RB Leipzig to sell last summer and an add-on was included which meant The Reds would pay extra if Ralph Hasenhüttl‘s men once again finished in a Champions League position, as it would have increased Keïta’s value even further.
With the season not being over, Liverpool went into negotiations during December knowing they would be paying a January premium on top of the £55million they agreed for Keïta in the summer. However, Football Whispers can exclusively reveal that RB Leipzig also want Liverpool to pay the Champions League add-on now, as well as a January premium.
We can also reveal Keïta visited England the week after Christmas and held talks with Liverpool, where image rights and a potential number change were among the topics discussed.
The Germans are ruthless negotiators though and won’t be afraid to hold out for the fee they want. But their stance has softened and that means Klopp could end up landing his top two transfer targets this season after all, he just had to wait an extra four months.
The club may have lost Coutinho this month but if they can add the arrival of Keïta to that of Virgil van Dijk then The Reds would be stronger heading into the second half of the campaign despite losing their most valuable asset.