Reports: Barcelona plot surprise move for £66 million-rated midfielder
What's the story?
The La Liga giants have made headlines this summer, after allowing Brazilian sensation Neymar to leave the club in a move to Paris Saint-Germain. Barcelona, it seems, are now facing the heat after failing to sign a replacement so far, while talks over Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho have apparently stalled.
Despite making repeated attempts at luring Coutinho, Liverpool have refused to indulge in talks so far. Latest reports in the Mirror suggest that the Catalan club could now avert their gaze towards RB Leipzig's Naby Keita, who is reportedly valued at £66 million.
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Keita has remained in Germany after the Bundesliga side fended off interest from English Premier League giants Liverpool, for the midfielder. Touted to be an able replacement for Coutinho, Keita is still allegedly being monitored by Jurgen Klopp.
However, as things stand, it looks like Coutinho might just stay at Liverpool for at least another year, and Keita is being lined up as an alternative once again. Except, this time, by Barcelona.
The heart of the matter
With Coutinho looking like he'll remain a Red this season, and just 3 days remaining left until deadline day, Barcelona are believed to be growing worried about their lack of replacements and could launch a desperate move for Naby Keita.
The 22-year old central midfielder has been in scintillating form, and has subsequently garnered attention from top European clubs, with Liverpool supposedly being the flag-bearers. The Merseyside club, however, have had their hands full with the game of tug of war over Coutinho and have failed to make a formal move for Keita.
While Liverpool have won that battle so far, their interest in Keita seems to have cooled, prompting Barcelona to consider the exact same alternative, as reports claim that the Catalan club's technical director -- Robert Fernandez -- was in Gelsenkirchen more than 10 days ago, to watch the Schalke and RB Leipzig encounter, with a close eye on Keita.
Meanwhile, RB Leipzig have categorically stated that Keita will be staying at the club, and have rejected multiple big-money offers from Liverpool. Barcelona have now emerged as fresh contenders and will be expected to go all out to lure the Guinean towards Camp Nou before the end of the transfer window in 3 days.
The 22-year old has been an excellent discovery and scored 8 goals in 31 appearances last season for RB Leipzig and has been keen on moving to a bigger club all season.
After prying Ousmane Dembele away from Dortmund, Keita is next on the Catalan club's radar and will undoubtedly be a great buy if Ernesto Valverde manages to pull it off.
Keita could be the perfect cushion for the likes of Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele, who will play with a lot more freedom, knowing they're backed by Keita. His arrival could make Barcelona miss Neymar a little less.