Football

Hamann: Keita is worth club record fee of $125m from Liverpool

Former Liverpool midfielder believes Leipzig will sell their prized asset if the Reds offer record bid

Former Liverpool midfielder Didi Hamann believes that RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita would be worth every penny of his £70 million ($125m) price tag.

The German told the Liverpool Echo that Leipzig, who had insisted that the 22-year-old Guinean is not for sale, will relent if the Reds dangle a record bid in front of them.

Keita had said in a previous interview that he wants to move to a big club like Real Madrid, Barcelona or Manchester City one day.

However, another former Liverpool player, Titi Camara, tweeted yesterday that he believes Keita, his fellow countryman, is now eyeing a move to Anfield.

Keita was not featured when Leipzig unveiled their kits for the new Bundesliga season, fuelling talk that he is holding talks with the club's management board about his future this week.

Camara even tweeted that Keita has already decided on his jersey number after moving to Anfield - the No. 8 that has been vacant since Steven Gerrard left in 2015.

If the deal does go through, it would shatter Liverpool's transfer record and be the most expensive in Bundesliga history.

"Would £70 million put me off buying Keita? No," Hamann told the Liverpool Echo.

"Just getting through the play-off round and into the group stage of the Champions League would pay off a big chunk of that fee.

"With Keita on board, Liverpool would have an even better chance of getting through."

The price might be a bit steep, but you have to pay the market rate, added Hamann.

He said: "It's no good saying the market value is £30 million because you aren't going to get someone like that for that fee.

"If Liverpool had to pay £60 million or £70 million to get Keita, it wouldn't worry me.

"You are buying a top player for years to come."

Leipzig have always insisted that Keita, who is under contract until 2020, isn't for sale this summer.

However, Hamann, who does commentary work in the Bundesliga, believes an offer of £70m would be hard to turn down, since Leipzig had bought Keita for £15m a year ago.

Said Hamann: "It's a huge fee. As much as Leipzig are in the Champions League and want to be successful themselves, I can't see them turning down £70 million if the player is pushing for the move.

"Apart from Bayern Munich, any club would think about it.

Hamann watched Keita rise to prominence last season, and he likened him to N'Golo Kante, who played pivotal roles in helping Leicester City and then Chelsea lift the EPL trophy in the last two seasons.

Keita was key to Leipzig's remarkable first year in the top-flight as they finished second behind champions Bayern. He bagged eight goals and eight assists in 31 league appearances.

"Signing for a promoted side, no one knew what to expect and he was under the radar for a lot of people," said Hamann.

"But, in the second half of the season, everyone knew about him and still couldn't stop him.

"Leipzig were the closest challengers to Bayern Munich and he had a huge impact. He reminds me of N'Golo Kante. I'm not sure he wins quite as many balls as Kante but, in terms of technical ability and getting involved further forward, he's more gifted than Kante."

It might be a big gamble to pay £70m for a 22-year-old, but Hamann belives otherwise.

He said: "Keita has got far too much quality to be a one-season wonder. He would be a tremendous signing for Liverpool." - WIRE SERVICES

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