Naby Keïta will ‘100%’ stay at RB Leipzig, coach tells Liverpool

Naby Keita (L) of Salzburg and Jay Rodriguez (#9) of Southampton fight for the ball during the pre-season match for the 3rd place between FC Red Bull Salzburg and Southampton FCas part of...

RB Leipzig’s coach, Ralph Hasenhüttl, has delivered a shattering blow to Liverpool’s hopes of signing Naby Keïta by describing the chances of him moving to Anfield as “null”.

His confidence that the Guinean midfielder will stay at the Bundesliga club did not even offer a sliver of encouragement to Jürgen Klopp. “The chance [of Keïta leaving] is null,” said Hasenhüttl. “It’s 100% clear that Naby will play this year in Leipzig. At the beginning of the transfer period we said we would start with the same team and of the players we had last year no one will go. That would be our answer now also. For us everyone can see how important Naby Keïta is for our game. It’s 100% sure that he will be with RB Leipzig in the Champions League.”

Hasenhüttl accepted that it was “normal” for Keïta to be coveted after a fine season but warned Liverpool they may not be the only ones in the vicinity if they choose to knock on the same door next summer. “Until next summer we keep it closed and then we have a look,” he added, not wishing to offer any details about a release clause that might be active in a year’s time.

“I said for all the players it is very important to stay together as it’s the first time we play Champions League and that is a new situation for every one of us. We have very young players and I think for them it is very important to play the first year in the Champions League as a team. We will learn this very much again this year.

“Keïta is more focused on us and has more fun now than last year. He knows this season will be fantastic for us. To play Champions League for Naby Keïta is a great thing.”

Keïta played as RB Leipzig were in London for the Emirates Cup, and lost their opening match 1-0 against Sevilla to a penalty struck by Wissam Ben Yedder. It has been a strange transfer window for Liverpool, who have recruited Mohamed Salah from Roma, Andrew Robertson from Hull City and Dominic Solanke from Chelsea but been frustrated in the chase for their two main targets, Virgil van Dijk and Keïta.

There was also disappointment for Manchester United when the Internazionale manager, Luciano Spalletti, said he would “strongly oppose” any sale of the winger Ivan Perisic, one of José Mourinho’s summer targets.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Amy Lawrence, for The Observer on Saturday 29th July 2017 17.30 Europe/London

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