Liverpool's lingering hopes of bringing forward the transfer of Naby Keita by six months look to have been firmly extinguished, with RB Leipzig releasing a public statement to confirm that the Guinean midfielder will definitely remain with the Bundesliga title contenders until the end of the season as planned.
Keita is scheduled to move to Anfield on 1 July 2018 after a long-running transfer saga including two rejected club-record bids was finally ended in August after Liverpool agreed to pay an unspecified lump sum on top of a £48m ($66.1m) release clause due to become active this summer.
The final value of the deal is believed to depend upon Leipzig's position at the end of the season.
Speculation that Jurgen Klopp could seek to expedite that deal has circulated ever since and was exacerbated by the recent £142m sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona, with reports suggesting that Leipzig were demanding at least an additional €15m to sanction an early departure for their influential midfielder.
Initial talks between Liverpool's sporting director Michael Edwards and counterpart Ralph Rangnick were said to have taken place, though the latter - plus chief executive Oliver Mintzlaff - remained insistent that Leipzig's stance had not changed.
He has now definitively ruled out the prospect of Keita moving to the Premier League ahead of schedule.
"We won't allow Liverpool to sign him early, even though they have shown renewed interest to bring him in during this transfer window," Rangnick said, per Leipzig's official website.
"As everyone knows, we are not a selling club, therefore it would only have been possible had we reached a mutual agreement involving an exorbitant additional fee. That is not the case and so we have decided to end this topic. Naby and his advisor also accepted this decision."
According to the latest reports from German publication Bild cited by the Liverpool Echo, Leipzig made a final offer of €20m which was dismissed by Liverpool. Talks between the German club and Keita's representatives are said to have continued until Sunday.
Keita, who was said to be eager to complete an early switch to Merseyside as their second January signing after Virgil van Dijk, marked his 21st appearance of the season by scoring the opening goal in Saturday's (13 January) 3-1 win over top-four rivals Schalke - a match that many predicted would be his last in a Leipzig shirt.
A fifth yellow card of the season means he will now be suspended for the trip to SC Freiburg next weekend. Ralph Hasenhuttl's second-place side, now above Schalke and 13 points adrift of dominant leaders Bayern Munich, close the month against Hamburg on 27 January.
The 22-year-old's involvement in the group phase of the Champions League mean he would have been unavailable to represent Liverpool in the knockout stages.