Ralf Rangnick, RB Leipzig's sporting director, has made his strongest suggestion yet that the club is prepared to sell Naby Keita next summer.
Keita, who was the subject of a protracted and ultimately unsuccessful pursuit by Liverpool this summer, is understood to have a £48m release clause in his contract which will be activated in 2018.
Leipzig refused to listen to offers for Keita this year, rejecting bids of £57m and £66m from Liverpool, but Rangnick accepts that it will be ‘tough’ to keep the 22-year-old at the club in the long-term.
“Next season, Keita theoretically has the option to leave,” he told Bild.
“I’d like to think that he will play another strong season, also in Champions League, and then there will be big clubs who are interested in him. Therefore it will presumably be pretty tough to keep him here.”
Leipzig have refused to confirm whether Keita’s contract includes the clause allowing him to leave next summer, though Rangnick’s comments offer the clearest indication yet that it exists.
Keita was Liverpool’s priority midfield target this summer but the club postponed their attempts to sign the Guinea international after Leipzig’s refusal to negotiate.
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