Football

Leipzig coach '100 per cent' sure Keita will stay

RB Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuttl insists it is "100 per cent clear" that sought-after midfielder Naby Keita will remain at the club.

The 22-year-old Guinea international was a shining light in the Leipzig side which stormed to a second-place finish in the Bundesliga last season.

His performances caught the eye and saw him heavily linked with Liverpool, who had two bids for Keita rejected over the summer.

Reports yesterday suggested that the Reds have now ended their interest and Hasenhuttl believes the player will now stay put.

"That is good," he said when it was put to him that Liverpool would not be returning with a third offer after failed bids of £57 million (S$101.5m) and £66m.

"The chance (of Keita leaving) is 'nil'. It's 100 per cent clear that Naby will play this year in Leipzig.

"At the beginning of the transfer period, we said we would start with the same team and, of the players we had last year, no one will go.

"That would be our answer now also. For us, everyone can see how important Naby Keita is for our game.

"It's 100 per cent sure that he will be with RB Leipzig in the Champions League."

Hasenhuttl's comments, which came after Leipzig lost 1-0 to Sevilla in the Emirates Cup on Saturday, are a big blow to Juergen Klopp's plan to sign the Guinea international.

The German enjoyed a perfect return to Germany yesterday morning (Singapore time), as Liverpool beat Hertha Berlin 3-0 in a pre-season friendly with summer signings Dominic Solanke and Mohamed Salah both on the scoresheet.

When asked by Sky Sports Germany about Keita, the manager joked: "Our next offer for Keita is 300 million euros (S$477.8m)!"

The game saw Philippe Coutinho, who has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona, handed the captain's armband, and the Liverpool fans gave the Brazilian playmaker a rousing reception.

Klopp hailed Coutinho, whose exquisite through ball set up Salah's delightful lobbed finish - his third goal of pre-season so far. The Reds boss was clearly impressed by the emerging relationship between the two players.

"Coutinho and Salah are two top level players, and we are extremely happy to have them," said Klopp.

"I think players like this understand each other. The pass was nice and the finish was also not too bad." - WIRE SERVICES

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