Friday 19 October 2018

'It's a project that excites me greatly' - Naby Keita looks ahead as Liverpool move is confirmed

Naby Keita will join Liverpool next season
Naby Keita will join Liverpool next season

Liverpool have agreed a deal for RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita to join the Merseyside club from July 1 next year.

The Reds announced the signing of the 22-year-old on their website on Tuesday morning, confirming the Guinea international would move to Anfield in time for next season.

Reports in Germany and England suggest Liverpool will pay a premium on top of a £48million buy-out clause which comes into effect next year to sign their long-term target.

Keita told Liverpool's website: "I am delighted that an agreement has been reached which will allow me to join Liverpool Football Club next summer, when I will become part of a project that excites me greatly.

My commitment to RBL remains absolute for the remainder of my time at the club. I have given my all every time I have worn the shirt - that will be the case until the final whistle, in my final appearance.

"Having my future resolved means I can now focus on helping RBL achieve great things this season. Until I join my new club, next summer, I will remain an interested supporter from a distance."

Keita impressed last season as Leipzig finished second in the Bundesliga and qualified for the Champions League.

The Premier League club were heavily linked with the player earlier in the summer but no deal materialised despite a reported bid of £66million.

German newspaper Bild said Liverpool will pay 75million euros (£69.4million) should Leipzig qualify for next season's Champions League, 70million euros (£64.8million) if Leipzig secure a Europa League place, or 65million euros (£60.2million) should they fail to earn a place in Europe.

Liverpool had initially wanted to sign Keita in time for this season, but consider him a player worth waiting for.

They look to be facing a tough battle in their efforts to secure another big-name, big-money signing, however.

According to reports on both sides of the Channel, the Reds have earmarked versatile Monaco midfielder Thomas Lemar as a prime target before the transfer window closes on Thursday night.

French sports daily L'Equipe reported that the Merseyside club have prepared an offer of 72 million euros (£66.7million) for the 21-year-old attacking player.

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According to French broadcaster RMC Sport, Liverpool would consider a trade involving striker Divock Origi moving to the Ligue 1 side.

However, the same report says Monaco have ruled out selling Lemar. The seemingly impending departure of Kylian Mbappe to Paris St Germain may also have a significant impact on any negotiations.

Monaco will know huge money is already coming their way, with Mbappe expected to cost around 180 million euros (£166.8million), and they may be reluctant to lose yet another star player, after a talent drain from the Stade Louis II this summer.

Liverpool's efforts to sign Virgil van Dijk from Southampton collapsed earlier this summer, with Saints chairman Ralph Krueger insisting the Dutchman was "not for sale in this window", but there may still be time to revive that deal if it suits all parties.

They have also repelled repeated efforts from Barcelona to take playmaker Philippe Coutinho to the Nou Camp, turning down a reported offer of £118million.

The Catalan club's interest in Coutinho may not be at an end, though.

Technical director Robert Fernandez said as Barcelona presented new forward Ousmane Dembele on Monday: "We hope to present another player before the end of the month.

"My intention is for one player to come or maybe two, if possible. I won't go into names but I admit that the club is working on the possibility of signing new players."

Press Association

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