RB Leipzig head of operations Oliver Mintzlaff has confirmed that Liverpool beat off competition from Barcelona for the signature of Naby Keïta.
The highly-promising Guinea international will become a Liverpool player next year after the Reds agreed to pay a £48million release clause and a further premium on top of that.
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Mintzlaff believes Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp’s determination played a huge part in securing the transfer ahead of Barcelona.
He said: “Barcelona were also interested in Naby Keïta. This was confirmed to us by Barcelona, but obviously they didn’t try as hard as Liverpool.
“Naby was very enthralled by Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp in particular.
“It’s understandable that this was something that went through his head because he could earn many times what he gets from us.
“He wanted to change immediately, but [club director] Ralf Rangnick told the team that we wouldn’t sell a player. It wasn’t lip service, it was carved in stone.
“We act credibly. Had we released Keita, maybe other players would have come up with a similar idea.
“In football, it’s rather rare that you say something and stick to it. Not with us. Liverpool wanted to meet with me countless times. To eat or to visit our training centre. I had invited the responsible people but not for negotiations.”
- Please note that Mintzlaff’s comments have been translated and have been shortened to focus on Keïta and Liverpool so they may vary around the web.