After failing to bring him to Anfield in the summer, Liverpool were able to strike a deal to sign Naby Keita from Red Bull Leipzig next July for a club record fee, believed to be in excess of the midfielder’s £48m release clause.

Keita is believed to be a real coup for the Reds as Bayern Munich were also in the running for the player, as were Barcelona, but the 22-year-old will be joining Liverpool because the Catalan side didn’t try hard enough to sign him.

Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff has revealed that Barcelona were in the running to sign their star midfielder but confirms Liverpool simply wanted him more.

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That’s right, even more so because Barcelona were also interested in Naby Keita. This was confirmed to us by Barcelona, but obviously they didn’t try as hard as Liverpool.

Mintzlaff goes on to say that Keita was eager to complete the move back in the summer, but they were reluctant to let him leave because of the message it could send to their other players and they were able to secure a bigger fee next summer as a result.

He wanted the transfer this summer. But [Leipzig sporting director] Ralf Rangnick told the team that we will not sell any players [at that time].

This was not lip service — it was set in stone. Had we released Keita, other players might have come up with a similar idea. [Agreeing to sell Keita next summer] gave the player more security, but also left us with a significantly higher transfer fee.

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