By Matt Farr
Liverpool have been dealt a blow in their bid to sign RB Leizpig midfielder Naby Keita this summer, according to a report.
The Liverpool Echo claim that UEFA’s decision to allow the German club to compete in next season’s Champions League could see Liverpool miss out on their £44million-rated transfer target.
UEFA rules prohibit clubs with strong links from competing in Europe during the same season, with RB Leipzig sharing ownership with Austrian outfit Red Bull Salzburg.
But despite both clubs sealing qualification for the upcoming campaign, Leipzig can have been forced to concede their place due to the ruling, which would see Salzburg gain priority status as a league champion.
However, it has since been revealed that UEFA have granted both clubs permission to play in the Champions League next term.
But the Echo claim that the decision could have negative ramifications for Liverpool, who have been coveting RB Leipzig star Keita ahead of the new season.
The 22-year-old midfielder scored eight goals and supplied eight assists from 32 appearances in all competitions last season, and Jurgen Klopp is keen to bring him to Anfield this summer.
It had been presumed that that the Guinea international would favour a move to Liverpool, where he would have an opportunity to play in the Champions League, if Leipzig were denied entry to the competition.
But the ruling means Keita does not have to quit his current club to take a shot at Europe’s premier competition, which could prove costly to the Premier League giants.
Football Insider verdict
It appears as though Liverpool will have to do a little more to convince Keita that a move to Anfield is the right one for him, because they’ve lost their potential European selling-point. For a young midfielder, a move to the Premier League is still a massive career decision, and one that Keita does not necessarily have to make this summer. The transfer fee, which is likely to stand between £40million and £50million, means there will also be the added weight of expectation threatening to derail his chances of success at Liverpool. He’d be a fantastic asset to the club, and someone Klopp can definitely work with and improve as a player. However, for Keita, he should look to remain at RB Leipzig for at least another season, and first test himself in the Champions League.
In other Liverpool transfer news, the Reds are one of three Premier League clubs reportedly eyeing a move for this Arsenal star as contract talks continue to stall.