Liverpool will not be allowed to sign Naby Keita early, say RB Leipzig
RB Leipzig have no intention of allowing Naby Keita to join Liverpool a year early, according to the club's sporting director Ralf Rangnick.
Keita will officially join Liverpool on 1 July 2018 after the Merseyside club struck a deal worth an initial £51m with Leipzig in August.
Leipzig were reluctant to sell the midfielder and only allowed him to leave due to a release clause in his contract effective from next season.
It has since been suggested that Liverpool could pay a premium to bypass the clause and bring Keita to Anfield early when the transfer window re-opens in January.
Rangnick, however, insists that Keita will remain a Leipzig player until the end of the season, with the Bundesliga club looking to qualify for the Champions League for the second successive season.
“Even if we should not reach the knockout stages of Champions League, it would make no sense to allow Naby to join Liverpool earlier,” he told Leipziger Volkszeitung. “We want to qualify for Europe again and we need Naby for that.”
Keita has scored two goals and registered one assist for Leipzig so far this season, though his disciplinary problems on and off the pitch have attracted more attention.
The 22-year-old has received three red cards during the campaign already – two for Leipzig, one while on international duty with Guinea.
Keita is also currently appealing a six-figure fine, administered by the city of Leipzig's district court, for allegedly using a forged driver's license.