Liverpool look to speed up Naby Keita transfer from RB Leipzig after Philippe Coutinho's £142 million exit

Liverpool want Naby Keita now after Philippe Coutinho's move to Barcelona (inset) Credit: AFP

Liverpool will attempt to bring Naby Keita’s Anfield switch forward to fill the void left by Philippe Coutinho’s £142 million move to Barcelona.

As details emerge of the measures Coutinho took to push through his Nou Camp transfer – committing £11.5m of his own cash to meet Liverpool’s valuation – his former club are considering how best to move on from his loss.

Keita, who is already secure for £57m from July, is effectively on loan for the season at RB Leipzig. The German club are determined to retain him as they seek to qualify for next year’s Champions League, but Liverpool are willing to pay more again to get him this month.

At this stage that still looks unlikely – Liverpool are respectful of the German club’s stance given the professional way negotiations proceeded in the summer - but given the Merseysiders’ significantly-swelled kitty, they are in a strong financial position to make another tempting offer. Keita would rather join Liverpool this month, Leipzig now out of this season's Champions League.

If Keita cannot be secured, Jurgen Klopp may wait until the summer before being proactive in the transfer market. However, he is keeping all options open. Every penny received from the Coutinho sale is available for the manager as and when he needs it, whether that is sooner or later.

“We have never been in a better position in recent times, as a club, to react in the right way,” he said, in response to Coutinho’s move.

That means Klopp is ready to move for long-term targets if there is a realistic chance of success. With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain settling in at Anfield and Adam Lallana back from injury, he will not rush, nor overpay just because the club is flush with cash. 

Coutinho, meanwhile, will finalise his transfer on Monday having paid around £11.5m of the £142m fee to ensure Liverpool’s valuation was met. He paid an initial £9m with the rest to follow.

His insistence on leaving now succeeded in breaking Klopp and Fenway Sports Group’s resolve to keep him, the club ultimately deciding they could not retain a player who did not buy into their vision for the future of the club, even in the short term.

Liverpool tried everything to keep the player and had been negotiating with Coutinho and his agent since the summer. They had offered massive financial incentives to stay – he would have signed a new deal with a huge pay rise had he committed for just four more months – and also appealed to his sporting ambitions, hoping the chance to play in the Champions League knockout stage would dissuade him from leaving in January. Liverpool meet Porto in the last 16 in February, while Coutinho is now cup-tied and will not feature for his new club.

Philippe Coutinho is unveiled by Barcelona Credit: AFP

Coutinho told Liverpool there were only two clubs he was interested in playing for – Liverpool and Barcelona – but the lure of Barca, who he supported as a child when his boyhood idol Ronaldinho starred at the Nou Camp, was too strong.

To delay the move still felt like a risk to the 25 year-old given he could be injured or alternative targets might emerge. Liverpool continued their efforts until Friday evening before reluctantly conceding there was nothing more that could be done. It was then that Coutinho and Barcelona were informed they could proceed with the formalities of the deal.

Klopp’s statement to the club website on Saturday afternoon was reflective of the unity between the manager and owners FSG. Neither wanted Coutinho to go, both were desperate to convince him to stay, but all agreed on the correct course. It was not the case of the owners enforcing a decision on the manager, nor Klopp directing his bosses what to do. All parties have been in constant dialogue throughout the process and there was never any possibility of the club taking such a major decision without their coach being integral to the process.

Meanwhile, the Football Association intends to speak to Everton defender Mason Holgate and Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino this week to establish the facts behind Friday’s incident in the Merseyside derby. 

Holgate told referee Bobby Madley he was racially abused by the Brazilian striker. Madley included the allegation in his match report. An investigation is under way. 

Liverpool have vowed to co-operate and Firmino will be in a position to present his view of events to the authorities in response to the Everton defender.

Both clubs will respect the process, eager to ensure there is a fair hearing for both players.