RB Leipzig are reluctant to sanction the early release of Naby Keita to Liverpool but with the player enthusiastic over a January switch and a further premium on offer, his immediate transfer is a growing possibility.
The midfielder already has a contract with the Anfield side that comes into effect on July 1, after both parties settled on a £57 million deal that could rise to £66m.
However, with Philippe Coutinho departing to Barcelona for a British record £142m and the Reds needing to inject some dynamism into midfield, negotiations have begun over bringing the arrangement forward.
A meeting between Keita and Leipzig will take place prior to the weekend, with a decision on how to progress currently understood to be “in the balance”. This discussion will significantly dictate the direction of matters.
Should there be progress, the payment structure of the agreement as it stands would need to be altered, given it is affixed to the German club’s finishing position in the Bundesliga.
Liverpool would also have to additionally incentivise Die Bullen – who would rather not cede Keita midway through the season – as well as the 22-year-old.
It is understood that the total transfer figure would have to be in the region of the Premier League side's record spend - the £75m which made Virgil van Dijk the world’s most expensive defender - to tempt Leipzig into allowing an earlier exit.
The monetary element is no issue for the Merseysiders, who are keen to come to another respectful conclusion with their counterparts.
Having worked so hard to reach a resolution at the end of August last year for this summer, there was every intention from all involved to honour the accord.
However, the Guinea international has grown tired of the criticism he has received in the campaign thus far, feeling he has been prejudiced by his advanced contract.
Despite reservations from Keita’s end over whether he would be best served having a full pre-season to settle in at Liverpool, the lynchpin wants to accept the responsibility of being a driving force in the centre of the park for them now.
He would be unavailable in the Champions League, but can bolster Jurgen Klopp's domestic objectives.
Furthermore, Leipzig, who were initially completely opposed to the idea, are realising as Liverpool did with Coutinho, Southampton did with van Dijk and Arsenal are with Alexis Sanchez during this window, that it is perhaps better to accede to a player’s wish for a good price than to go against it.
CEO Oliver Mintzlaff revealed in a recent interview with BILD that “Naby could hardly accept that we would not let him go” in the previous window and “so it was up to us to find a sensible solution". That is again the case.
Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuttl, meanwhile, will continue to consider Keita for selection. "We've always said that there is no reason for us to let him go earlier," he noted. "So he will play at the weekend against Schalke."