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EXCLUSIVE: Manchester City Join Race For Keïta

 • by Sam McGuire
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Manchester City are hoping to gazump Liverpool with a late bid for midfielder Naby Keïta, sources have told Football Whispers, before loaning him back to RB Leipzig.

Despite Leipzig’s insistence their star man isn’t for sale at any price, Liverpool have been given enough encouragement to make two bids – the latest a €66million offer which was rejected.

Olivier Mintzlaff, Red Bull’s head of soccer operations, has said: “€75million is not enough to buy Keïta, he is world class”.

Mintzlaff’s choice of words were revealing and suggest RB’s stance has softened over a number of weeks from Keïta not being for sale at any price to Liverpool’s offer not being enough.

It’s resulted in reports emerging that the German club is split into two camps, with some looking at this from a business perspective and acknowledging it is too good an offer to reject.

However, Sporting Director Ralf Ragnick is yet to waver and received the public backing of Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz.

City, though, believe the package they have put together is more than good enough to tempt the Bundesliga runners-up to part with their dynamic box-to-box midfielder.

They are prepared to match Liverpool’s cash offer but sweeten the deal by loaning Keïta back to Leipzig for a season, and feel this could swing the deal in their favour.

That would mean the Bundesliga side get Keïta for their maiden campaign in the Champions League while cashing in on the player for more than his release clause, which becomes active next summer.

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In turn, City would be able to bed in their new full-backs and attacking options without adding a new centre-midfielder into the equation. Too much transition can be a bad thing.

City are starting to throw their weight around in this transfer window. They will go to battle with Real Madrid for Kylian Mbappé which, if they land Keïta too, would take their summer spending to more than £300million. The Guardiola revolution would be well underway.  

Keïta named City, along with Real Madrid and Barcelona, as one of big clubs he wants to play for in the future. But the midfielder has bought into the project at Liverpool and wants to play under Jürgen Klopp.

When news broke that Manchester United were circling the player, a source close to the player revealed to Football Whispers that, having put so much groundwork into signing him, the 22-year-old is determined to join the Reds: “In his mind, the only possible destination for next season is Liverpool.”

With Keïta’s agent reportedly meeting RB Leipzig today, the player’s future should be clearer by the end of the week.

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