Transfer Talk: Liverpool's pursuit of Naby Keita looks doomed and the rest of the day's rumours
Liverpool's pursuit of Naby Keita appears increasingly as if it could be doomed to failure after RB Leipzig communicated to the Premier League club that Keita is not for sale.
The focus now falls on the 22-year-old Guinea midfielder to hand in a transfer request and force a move if he is to get the switch to Anfield that he so desires.
While the Reds know the player would like to join them this summer, Leipzig want to keep together the side that finished second in the Bundesliga last season.
Sporting director Ralf Rangnick has reiterated on numerous occasions that they would like to progress in the Champions League, and believe that their best chance of doing so is with their strongest squad.
Keita has risen to prominence with Red Bull Salzburg and then RB Leipzig, who he signed for last summer for just over £10m. While Liverpool are ready to offer £60m for his signature, much more than the £48m release clause that is understood to be in his contract for 12 months from now, there is a hope that a huge new contract in the autumn could convince Keita to stay.
Those close to the player suggest there is little chance of him renewing his deal but that is of little consequence this summer. What his strongest suitors are hoping for is that he now formally tells the club that he wants to leave, forcing him to forfeit a number of loyalty bonuses and payments in his existing deal.
Some recruitment analysts believe Keita could become one of the world's best midfielders and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is enamoured by his high-energy style and passing ability. Should Liverpool manage to pull off a deal for the 22-year-old midfielder then it will be a significant coup, but most of all it will be a relief after the club's pursuit of number one defensive target Virgil van Dijk went so badly - and publicly - wrong.
For now, the Keita deal is heading down the same path and the Reds are approaching pre-season with only Mohamed Salah on board as a first-team signing.
WHAT THE PAPERS SAY
Chelsea are favourites to sign PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG, claims the Daily Mail, after Tianjin Quanjin pulled out of a move for the Gabon forward, although AC Milan remain interested. The Mirror reports that Borussia Dortmund are weighing up a move for Arsenal's OLIVIER GIROUD as a replacement for Aubameyang.
Remaining with Chelsea, the Daily Express reports that EDEN HAZARD has contacted Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane to tell him he will be remaining at Stamford Bridge for at least one more season.
The Daily Telegraph says that Leicester are planning a clear out of last summer's transfer failures, with ISLAM SLIMANI, AHMED MUSA, NAMPALYS MENDY and BARTOSZ KAPUSTKA all set to follow Ron-Robert Zieler in leaving the Foxes. The paper reports that Musa has attracted interest from the Premier League and abroad, while Bordeaux are pursuing Mendy.
Real Madrid have given up on their attempts to sign Manchester United goalkeeper DAVID DE GEA, and will now turn their attention to Athletic Bilbao's KEPA ARRIZABALAGA, according to the Daily Star.
@FabrizioRomano: Bakayoko-Chelsea, agreement is getting closer tonight with Monaco: here we go! #CFC #transfers
@DailyStar_Sport: Finally! Spurs reportedly nearing FIRST signing of the summer with Juan Foyth deal close
PLAYERS TO WATCH
NATHANIEL CHALOBAH: The England Under-21 midfielder is wanted by Swansea and Watford, according to the Sun, with Chelsea ready to listen to offers of £5million.
DANILO: The Mirror reports that Chelsea and Juventus are both keen on the Real Madrid full-back.
THOMAS LEMAR: Arsenal are preparing a £45million raid for the Monaco winger, reports the Daily Mail.
Additional reporting by PA
Independent News Service