Liverpool beat Barcelona to Naby Keita, reveals RB Leipzig CEO

Naby Keita of Leipzig passes the ball during the Bundesliga match against Sport-Club Freiburg on August 27, 2017
Image: Liverpool faced competition from Barcelona for Naby Keita, RB Leipzig have revealed

Liverpool fought off interest from Barcelona to the summer signing of midfielder Naby Keita, according to RB Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff.

The Reds agreed a club-record £48m deal with the Bundesliga side for Keita in August, with the 22-year old scheduled to join Jurgen Klopp's team on July 1 next year.

However, RB Leipzig CEO Mintzlaff has revealed Liverpool needed to fend off competition from Barcelona for the signature of the Guinea international - who has made 15 appearances for the club this season.

Naby Keita has been sent off three times this season
Image: Keita has picked up three red cards for club and country in 16 appearances this season

"FC Barcelona was interested in Naby Keïta," Mintzlaff told German outlet Sport Bild.

"That was confirmed to us also from Barcelona. However, they had apparently not given as much gas as Liverpool."

Liverpool's agreement with Leipzig for Keita's move in 2018 came after the German club maintained their stance in not selling the player during the last transfer window.

Mintzlaff confirmed Keita wanted to switch clubs immediately when the deal was completed, though he feared it would have caused further players to seek a move away from the Red Bull Arena.

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Naby Keita is mobbed by team-mates after his recent goal against Hamburg
Image: Keita will join the Liverpool squad on July 1 2018 following the £48m deal

"Naby was very much enthralled by Liverpool and especially by Jurgen Klopp," he added.

"It is understandable that he thought this through because he can earn many times what he got from us.

"He wanted to change immediately. But Ralf Rangnick told the team that we will not sell a player [at this time].

"It was not lip service, it was carved in stone. We act credibly. Had we released Keïta, other players might have come up with a similar idea."

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