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.
“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.
“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.”