Leipzig's Naby Keita thanks the fans after the German Bundesliga soccer match between RB Leipzig and Werder Bremen at the Red Bull Arena in Leipzig, Germany, 23 October 2016. PHOTO: Jan Woitas/dpa

RB Leipzig contact Liverpool to reiterate hardline stance over Naby Keita

RB Leipzig have contacted Liverpool directly to insist that midfielder Naby Keita is not for sale this summer, delivering a blow to Jurgen Klopp.

Klopp has earmarked Keita as his only target for the role, and the Reds are said to be prepared to break their transfer record by a wide margin to sign the Guinean.

Leipzig have taken a hardline stance over the 22-year-old’s future throughout the summer, led by sporting director Ralf Rangnick’s no-nonsense approach to speculation.

Now, according to the Telegraph, the Bundesliga side have told Liverpool under no uncertain terms that Keita is unavailable.

It is claimed that the only way Keita would be able to leave Leipzig is if he forced through a move personally.

This would be similar to the way in which Sadio Mane sealed his departure from Leipzig’s sister-club Red Bull Salzburg in 2014, when Rangnick was in the same role with the Austrian side.

However, Keita is said to have been unwilling to hand in a transfer request earlier this summer, despite reports suggesting he had rejected Leipzig’s improved contract offer.

The Independent report that he would “forfeit a number of loyalty bonuses and payments in his existing deal” if he did so.

Keita will return to pre-season training with the club on Thursday, and there could be further developments this week.

Despite frustrations in his attempts to sign both Keita and Southampton centre-back Virgil van Dijk this summer, Klopp has remained calm over the situation.

Speaking to reporters after Liverpool’s 4-0 friendly win away to Tranmere Rovers on Wednesday night, the German insisted he is “not nervous” about the club’s transfer activity.

“If any fans think, ‘What are the other teams doing and why are we not doing anything’, I can’t help. Sorry,” he said.

“We cannot buy players because other teams buy players. We do our business as good as we can do it and we are convinced about the way we are going.

“Nervous fans? Sorry, I don’t have to write a message for this. I am not nervous—maybe that is the message.”

The transfer window does not close until August 31, leaving the Reds considerable time to continue pursuing their priority targets.

However, with Leipzig adamant Keita won’t be leaving, they may face a struggle to sign the No. 8 either way.

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