Back in August Liverpool completed their then record signing of Naby Keita from RB Leipzig, triggering a £48 million release clause in his contract and paying a premium - believed to be as much as £7 million - to do so and enable Keita to remain at Leipzig until the finish of the 17/18 season.
Now however, with the much talked about second most expensive transfer in history of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona, Liverpool have a 5 foot 7 inch create hole in the middle of the park and rumours are strongly starting to heat up that Jurgen Klopp doesn't want to wait until August 2018 to see Naby Keita make his Anfield debut.
It was originally thought that RB Leipzig were completely against letting the Guinean midfielder leave early but reports coming out of Germany now suggest that with the player enthusiastic over a January move and a further premium on offer from Liverpool, his immediate transfer is all of a sudden a possibility.
Upon sealing his apparent 'dream move' last summer, Keita was quoted as saying he would remain a 'supporter from a distance' but now it has been said that the players 'head is at Anfield', has been taking English lessons and is now considered isolated from the rest of the fellow players in the squad.
It's understood that a meeting between Keita and Leipzig will take place before the weekend, with a decision on how to progress currently understood to be “in the balance”. Obviously this meeting will hugely dictate what will happen next.
One thing is for sure though, Liverpool will have to part with some of that Coutinho money that will be burning a hole in their pockets if they are to tempt Ralph Hasenhüttl into losing his key player midway through the season.
Naby Keita: Of the 49 players to attempt 30 or more dribbles in the Bundesliga this season, Keita has the best dribble success rate (64.8%)
Full player stats -- https://t.co/Kq9k3cukCZ pic.twitter.com/oLMcmIDgGi
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) January 10, 2018
With the news of Leipzig's softening stance comes a figure, believed to be somewhere between £13-£17.5 million to push the deal through this month. That, of course would take the overall deal very close or equal to their now record spend, the £75 million for defender Virgil Van Dijk.
You would think, monetarily, that an extra few million will be no problem for Liverpool, what with the Coutinho money and their owners FSG very low net spend since they took over and having worked so hard last summer to win the race to sign Keita, that a measly 13-17 million surely won't stand in their way now if the early move becomes possible?
— Owain Jones (@OwainJTJones) January 9, 2018
If the switch does happen this month Keita will not be available to appear for the Reds in the Champions League, having played for Leipzig during their group stage elimination. One would think though that the addition of Keita in midfield would really bolster Liverpool's claim to be in the competition next year and help them possibly push on to win their first piece of silverware since their 2012 League Cup win in this year's FA Cup.
With both sides waiting on the above mentioned meeting to take place between the player and his current club, it is believed that previous beliefs that Keita would be best served with a full pre season with his new club, that the player is not concerned and is keen to accept the responsibility of being a driving force in the centre of their midfield now.