Liverpool may have to shell out a club-record fee in order to sign priority target Naby Keita this summer, as RB Leipzig reiterate that they are not looking to sell any of their starting players during the forthcoming transfer window.
Highly-rated Guinean midfielder Keita has been on the radar of Jurgen Klopp for some time now. The versatile 22-year-old has thrived since joining RB Leipzig from sister club Red Bull Salzburg following the former's promotion to the Bundesliga last term. He has scored eight goals and layed on as many assists during 32 appearances to help Ralph Hasenhuttl's side finish second, securing automatic qualification for the Champions League group stages in their maiden season in the top-flight of German football.
The Independent suggested last week that Liverpool were hoping to sign both Keita and his teammate Timo Werner over the coming weeks, in addition to Southampton captain Virgil van Dijk, Fulham wonderkid Ryan Sessegnon and Hull City left-back Andrew Robertson as part of a busy recruitment drive.
However, the Times now reports there is a feeling only a bid in the region of £50-$60m for Keita would tempt Leipzig into softening their resolve with regards to the potential sales of key first-team assets.
Liverpool have breached the £30m barrier only twice in recent years, with the signings of Christian Benteke – who has since departed for Crystal Palace – and Sadio Mane. Their record signing remains the £35m capture of Andy Carroll from Newcastle United, which was completed on a dramatic January deadline day back in 2011.
"We have decided that we will not sell any player from our starting line-up," said Leipzig chief executive Oliver Mintzlaff. "[Sporting director] Ralf Rangnick told this to our team at the end of the season. We will keep our team together and keep on developing."
Klopp appears set to complete his summer transfer business early and said in the aftermath of Liverpool's 3-0 post-season friendly victory over Sydney FC at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday (24 May) that he wished he could bring in new players tomorrow.
"Of course that isn't really likely," he acknowledged. "The best scenario is always to have them in before pre-season."
Having finished fourth in the Premier League following a final-day victory over relegated Middlesbrough, Liverpool will face a potentially tricky two-legged August play-off to determine whether or not they advance through to the Champions League proper.