Liverpool target Naby Keïta is not for sale, insist RB Leipzig

• Bundesliga club stand firm in face of interest from Jürgen Klopp
• Guinea midfielder will have to force through move to Liverpool

Naby Keïta will have to force a move to Liverpool after RB Leipzig informed the Anfield club that their coveted midfielder will not be sold this summer.

The 22-year-old is Jürgen Klopp’s prime midfield target and Liverpool are willing to shatter their transfer record to bring him to Merseyside. Leipzig, however, have steadfastly refused to consider selling a player who was instrumental in their second-place finish in the Bundesliga last season and given Liverpool no encouragement regarding a transfer fee.

Ralf Rangnick, the club’s sporting director, has stated repeatedly that Keïta is not for sale this summer, with Leipzig having qualified for the Champions League. That position hardened on Wednesday when Liverpool were contacted by the German club and informed the Guinea international is not available for transfer.

Leipzig’s stance leaves Keïta with limited options if he is to secure his wish of a move to Liverpool. One would be to test his employers’ resolve by submitting a transfer request. That could materialise on Thursday when the player is due back in pre-season training.

Despite Leipzig’s consistent stance, Liverpool have not explored alternatives to Keïta so far and hope the player’s determination to join Klopp’s team, plus their willingness to pay a significant transfer fee, will ultimately lead to a breakthrough. The same applies to their main defensive target, Virgil van Dijk, despite having publicly withdrawn their interest earlier this summer when Southampton threatened to report the Anfield club for allegedly tapping up the Dutch international.

Klopp was asked following Liverpool’s 4-0 friendly win at Tranmere Rovers on Wednesday whether he accepted the pursuit of Van Dijk was over. He replied: “Am I allowed to talk about this? I am not. Pretty much everything I could say would be a mistake. You or your colleagues wrote everything about this a few weeks ago. Nothing happened since then. All good so far, so I can’t say anything about this.”

Liverpool have signed Mohamed Salah from Roma – the Egypt international was not available at Prenton Park because of work permit issues – and Dominic Solanke from Chelsea. Klopp insisted he does not share the supporters’ concerns over the relative lack of incomings this summer and appeared confident that Liverpool’s approach would eventually pay dividends.

He added: “We do our business as good as we can do it. We are completely in it and we are convinced about the way that we are going, so that’s all. Are fans nervous? Sorry, I cannot help. I’m not nervous; maybe that’s the right message for this.

“We have until 31 August. We have time and sometimes things need time. We’ll do transfers because we want to do them, if not it’s because we don’t want to do them. So we have to wait a bit but tomorrow you can have a long sleep because nothing will happen tomorrow.”

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