Liverpool are reportedly back in contract renewal talks with Naby Keita, despite them being tipped to sign an RB Leipzig star as his replacement.
Keita’s current Liverpool deal expires in June 2023. This means he could sort out a pre-contract agreement with a European club from January 1, before joining them in the summer.
Or the midfielder could run down his contract entirely and assess his options once he becomes a free agent.
Liverpool spent a reported £52.75million when signing Keita from Leipzig in July 2018. This saw them break their transfer record, though the move has since been surpassed by Virgil van Dijk and Darwin Nunez.
The large expenditure on Keita means Reds chiefs don’t want to lose him on a free transfer at the end of the season, or in a cut-price deal this winter.
As such, Liverpool officials began contract discussions with Keita and his entourage in July.
However, the Guinea international stopped these talks on August 17, as revealed by Sky Sports Germany reporter Florian Plettenberg. The journalist claimed Keita was ‘unhappy’ at Anfield at that point, which is why the negotiations came to a halt.
Liverpool were heavily linked with several midfielders in the final few weeks of the summer transfer window. And they did eventually bring one in as Arthur Melo arrived on loan from Juventus. Liverpool have the option to buy him next year, too.
Even after this signing, Liverpool are being backed to improve Jurgen Klopp’s midfield ranks by landing Leipzig ace Konrad Laimer. He would effectively join to replace Keita, who has had an injury-hit time on Merseyside. And the Austrian could be available for just £25m after entering the final 12 months of his contract, just like Keita.
Liverpool eye Konrad Laimer move
When asked about the Laimer to Liverpool rumours, transfer journalist Dean Jones said recently: “I think they are different types of targets.
“Arthur was a late loan to fill a hole, whereas Laimer would be a permanent signing who comes into the long-term thinking of the club. He still might be one they look to again.”
Despite Liverpool seemingly going after Laimer, they are apparently back in contract discussions with Keita. That is according to Football Insider, who state Liverpool are ‘increasingly hopeful’ the player will extend his terms.
Klopp retains faith in Keita and believes he can still play a big role this season. This will only happen once he returns from a hamstring injury, though.
Liverpool want to maintain Keita’s market value by tying him down to a new deal.
Naby Keita renewal talks ‘progressing well’
Negotiations between the two parties are thought to be ‘progressing well’. This could soon see the contract saga result in a conclusion.
It makes sense for Liverpool to sort out a new contract to prevent Keita from leaving on the cheap. However, it is unlikely he will ever live up to his original £52.75m fee.
The 27-year-old is not part of Klopp’s preferred midfield three, which is Fabinho, Thiago and Jordan Henderson. And his injury problems are just putting him further down in the pecking order.
Once Keita is tied down to a new contract, Liverpool should consider selling for as good a fee as possible next year.
Meanwhile, John Barnes has told Liverpool which three signings would solve their midfield crisis.
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