RB Leipzig have toughened their resolve over Naby Keita, with sporting director Ralf Rangnick insisting the midfielder has no release clause in his contract, and would not be sold even if a “three-figure” bid is received from Liverpool.
The 22-year-old is Jurgen Klopp’s priority target in the centre of midfield given his rare excellence both offensively and in breaking up opposition play.
Keita, who has attracted the interest of many of Europe's elite, is open to an Anfield switch to advance his career - a message that has been communicated to the Bundesliga club.
However, the response received from Rangnick has been strong and consistent: no exit will be sanctioned.
Initial indications were that a figure in the region of £50 million would be enough for Liverpool to make Leipzig reconsider their stance over the the Guinea international, before sources suggested that with Die Bullen not enticed by financial reward, setting a new record for a transfer in Germany could tempt them into a sale.
It was also widely reported that Keita has a £48m release fee that can be triggered next summer, but Rangnick has dismissed all these claims and reiterated the club’s hardline position.
“There are no players in our squad who have an exit clause,” he said at a press briefing.
“I will repeat it one more time, we will not sell any of our key players. There are a lot of reports about there being a certain figure where we could be open to a sale, but they are all false.
“We are not selling anyone even if we are talking about a three-figure transfer fee and the players know that.
“I have already said that before and nothing has changed in that aspect.
“It is only normal that there is interest in our players after a season like this, also because of what guys like Keita and [Emil] Forsberg have done for their national teams. That does not change our stance.
“There is no reason for the players to leave, we have directly qualified for the Champions League.”
Klopp has stated Liverpool will be patient with transfers as they “wait for the right moment” to act.
The manager has targeted a higher calibre of player this summer, insistent that the Reds’ main business has to centre around genuine quality.
He would like to sign a central defender, a left-back and a central midfielder.
The pursuit of Keita to solve the latter issue has been frustrating, and with the Guinean not set to force a move, as revealed by Goal on June 26, it will remain an exhausting deal to get over the line.
Klopp has, however, vowed the “squad will be stronger than it was last year.”