Football

Liverpool prepared to break the bank for Keita

Liverpool could splash out $125m for highly-rated Leipzig midfielder

Juergen Klopp has identified RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita as his No. 1 midfield target and Liverpool are willing to bankroll his pursuit.

Keita, 22, was one of the Bundesliga's star performers last season, scoring eight goals, providing seven assists and averaging 2.6 interceptions and 2.6 tackles per game in 32 matches for Leipzig.

Reports on Thursday night revealed that the Reds are set to launch a bid for the Guinea international, who has been slapped a £70 million (S$125.3m) price tag by the German club.

That will smash the Reds' transfer record of £36.9m for Roma's Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah.

Gabriele Marcotti, writer and columnist for ESPN and the Times, claimed that Liverpool have an "agreement in principle" with Keita regarding his personal terms at Anfield.

This includes both the player's salary and the length of his contract, underlining Keita's ambition to make the move to Merseyside.

However, Marcotti also stressed that "agreements in principle only matter so much", with no breakthrough on the horizon in potential talks with Keita's club.

If Liverpool are willing to pay £70m for the No. 8, that may change Leipzig's stance, although Marcotti doubted that the Reds would go to that extent.

Leipzig have insisted that they do not want to sell Keita on the back of his excellent first season in the Bundesliga.

Chief executive Oliver Mintzlaff has claimed that it would be "irresponsible" to cash in on the Guinea international before their first Champions League campaign.

Liverpool want to test Leipzig's resolve by opening talks over a fee.

LUKEWARM

Keita, though, appeared lukewarm to Liverpool's advances and excluded them when he recently spoke about wanting to play for Europe's "very big clubs" such as Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester City.

Besides Salah, Dominic Solanke is Klopp's only other signing so far, with the striker set to complete his free transfer from Chelsea today.

Liverpool also remain interested in Hull City's Andy Robertson as Klopp continues his search for a left back.

The Reds ended their interest in Ryan Sessegnon when he signed a new deal at Fulham and Robertson is on their radar.

They have watched the Scotland international extensively over the last two seasons and feel he could be an alternative to James Milner at left back as they look to ship out Alberto Moreno.

Hull boss Leonid Slutsky is prepared to cash in on Robertson and would want at least £10m for him. - WIRE SERVICES

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