Sunday 22 April 2018

Liverpool look to speed up Naby Keita's move to Anfield after Coutinho's exit

Naby Keita will join Liverpool next season
Naby Keita will join Liverpool next season
FC Barcelona's new signing Philippe Coutinho during the presentation. REUTERS/Albert Gea
Philippe Coutinho

Chris Bascombe

Liverpool will attempt to bring Naby Keita’s move to Anfield forward in an attempt to fill the void left by Philippe Coutinho’s £142 million move to Barcelona.

As details emerge of the measures Coutinho took to push through his Nou Camp transfer – committing £11.5 million of his own cash to meet Liverpool’s valuation – his former club are considering how best to move on from his loss.

Keita, who has already been secured by Liverpool following a deal worth around £57 million, is on loan for the season at RB Leipzig. The German club is determined to retain him as they seek to qualify for next year’s Champions League, but Liverpool would be willing to pay more again to get him this month.

At this stage that still looks unlikely – Liverpool are respectful of the Bundesliga club hierarchy’s stance given the professional way negotiations proceeded in the summer – but given the Merseysiders' significantly swelled kitty they are in a strong financial position to make another tempting offer. Keita would rather join Liverpool this month with Leipzig eliminated from the Champions League.

If Keita cannot be secured, Klopp may wait until the summer before re-investing the £142 million – all of which is available to spend on new recruits. However he is keeping all options open.

“We have never been in a better position in recent times, as a club, to react in the right way,” he said in response to Coutinho’s move.

That means Klopp is ready to move for long-term targets if there is a realistic chance he can get them now. But with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain settling in at Anfield and Adam Lallana back from injury, he will not rush, nor overpay just because the club is flush with cash. Liverpool know many clubs will now increase valuations when Liverpool call.

Coutinho, meanwhile, will finalise his transfer on Monday having paid around £11.5 million of the £142 million fee to ensure Liverpool’s valuation was met. He paid an initial £9 million with the rest to follow.

His insistence on leaving now succeeded in breaking Klopp’s resolve to keep him, the manager ultimately deciding he could not keep a player who did not buy into his vision for the future of the club.

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