Liverpool's pursuit of Naby Keita is over for this summer with RB Leipzig unwilling to do business at any price.
Jurgen Klopp had targeted the Guinea international, 22, as being someone who would provide drive and dynamism to his midfield and was prepared to back his judgment of the player with the biggest transfer outlay in the club’s history.
Liverpool’s initial £57million bid at the beginning of this month was rebuffed by Leipzig.
They returned with an offer that, with add-ons, was worth more than £66m — a fee that would have been almost double what Liverpool spent to bring Mohamed Salah from Roma last month.
Once again, Leipzig — who finished runners-up in the Bundesliga last season — rejected Liverpool’s offer and having previously made it clear to Anfield officials that they did not welcome the interest in Keita, refused to consider any deal, despite the size of the financial package.
Keita (right) wanted to come to England and was desperate to play for Klopp, but the club are now pursuing other midfield targets ahead of Premier League and Champions League campaigns.
The only way a transfer could be resurrected before the end of August would be if Leipzig performed a U-turn and decided it would be futile keeping an unhappy player at the club but this is unlikely given their robust stance.
This twist in the story, though, does not mean that Liverpool’s interest in Keita is permanently over and given he has a release clause in his contract that can be activated next summer, it is highly likely he will move to Merseyside then.
It will still come as a blow to Keita, who had his heart set on playing for Klopp in the Champions League.
He has endured a difficult time through the speculation and was involved in a spat on Monday with team-mates after a heavy tackle on Diego Demme.
The situation has also been inflamed with Ralf Rangnick, Leipzig’s sporting director, saying that Keita was being advised by a ‘whole village in Guinea’ — a remark for which he was forced to offer an explanation.
Klopp had indicated after Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Wigan on July 14 that his patience was not limitless in terms of pursuing targets.
He was anxious to sign Keita and this development represents another blow to the club’s ambitions, having been forced to apologise to Southampton and withdraw their interest after allegations they had tapped up Virgil van Dijk.
Liverpool have been on a training camp in the German town of Rottach-Egern and play their next pre-season fixture today against Hertha Berlin in the Olympiastadion.
They will then contest the Audi Cup in Munich before discovering who they will face in the Champions League play-off next Friday.