Liverpool looking to sign Naby Keita in January transfer window - source
Liverpool continue to explore the possibility of bringing forward Naby Keita's transfer to Anfield this window, a source has told ESPN FC, while RB Leipzig insist their stance "hasn't changed."
As it stands, Keita, 22, will become a Liverpool player on July 1 as the Premier League club triggered a release clause in his contract last summer, while paying a premium to secure his services in advance.
But a knock-on effect from Philippe Coutinho's £142 million sale to Barcelona is Liverpool seeking to have Keita, a dynamic midfielder, ahead of schedule.
Before Coutinho was sold, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp ruled out attempting to make a move for Keita, saying the club "don't think about it."
However, having now lost the Brazil international, Liverpool are in dialogue with the Bundesliga runners-up about a possible January move, the source said.
But Leipzig do not want to lose Keita this month as they still remain in a battle to secure Champions League qualification for next campaign and find themselves in the round-of-32 of this season's Europa League.
They told the BBC: "There is nothing new about this situation and so that speculation is not true.
"Nothing has changed and our position hasn't changed from before regarding this transfer."
RB Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuttl ruled out any suggestion they would consider letting Keita depart for Liverpool this month.
Reports in Germany suggested Leipzig may be willing to reconsider their position and would take a fixed sum for Keita's services now, with no guarantee of securing European football even if they keep Keita on board.
"The latest is that the situation remains the way it was during the whole season," he said at a Bundesliga news conference on Thursday ahead of the game against Schalke. "We have always said that there's no reason to allow Keita leave early and that's the way it is staying.
"Therefore, Keita will play against Schalke this weekend. Hopefully he will play well and that is the only thing I am interested in."
As Schalke prepare to face Keita's side this weekend, their sporting executive, Christian Heidel, joked that Klopp should step up his efforts to sign Keita this week.
Heidel and Klopp are close friends after working together for seven years at Bundesliga club Mainz.
"I'm going to ring 'Kloppo' again now and tell him that he should go to Leipzig quickly and pick him [Keita] up," Heidel told a news conference.
In earlier reports, Kicker revealed a contract clause with a €75 million fee for Keita only due in the summer if Leipzig qualify for the Champions League -- with Liverpool allegedly paying €10m less should Leipzig fail to qualify for European competition.
Kicker also claimed Keita is slacking in training, not giving the impression at all that he is keen on staying until the summer, while Bild wrote that the Guinea international is "more or less ostracised" after "increasingly losing his standing with his teammates."
In training on Thursday in Leipzig, Keita was involved in a long conversation with the team psychologist.
Keita has endured a difficult period since the transfer to Liverpool was announced, scoring just two goals this season and being sent off three times in three competitions in the space of 39 days earlier in the campaign.
He also confirmed he had appealed against a penalty order for submitting a fake driver's licence.
ESPN FC's Mark Lovell contributed to this report.
Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.